State lawmakers are scrambling to fix a hastily passed tax bill that could cost the state trucking industry millions.
In the final days of session and after budget negotiations broke down, lawmakers did away with an 80-year-old tax exemption on the sale of vehicles. In their haste, they gave trucks an exemption but not the trailers they pull. Lawmakers simply did not stop to consider the impact the bill would have on the trucking industry.
"Nobody in the House caught it," said Rep. Bobby Cleveland (R-20). "Nobody in the Senate caught it. The governor's office didn't catch it. We've got lawyers on our side The Senate's got lawyers. The governor's got lawyers. Nobody caught it."
Mike Mattox of Western Flyer XPress Trucking just paid thousands of dollars in taxes on his purchase of new trailers. It's the first time he's done it and it will be the last. He'll just tag his trailers in another state.
"We just purchased 25 trailers here for new trailers," Mattox said, "and we had to pay the tax on them. It was a little over $10,000."
For now, though, it's the law of the land. Truckers can either pay the tax, on average about $625 more per trailer, or buy and register them in another state for a fraction of the cost.
"I have heard a robust conversation among those in the trucking industry," said Jim Newport of the Oklahoma Trucking Association, "who could possibly look at purchasing and registering those trailers in other states. Of course, that would not be good for the economy of Oklahoma."
House leadership plans to introduce a bill to fix the problem during the special session later this month. Truckers hope it will pass.
"If this tax were to stay in place," Newport said, "then it only makes sense that they might start looking across our borders at other states."