Tennessee faces yet another legal challenge to existing state law, this time from one of the nation’s largest railroad companies.
CSX Transportation claims a Tennessee statute levying a diesel tax on railroads violates federal law. It is seeking a $28 million refund from the state in taxes already paid at the pump, according to a lawsuit filed in Davidson County Chancery Court against the David Gerregano, Tennessee’s Commissioner of Revenue.
The state is fighting a slew of legal battles brought over recently enacted legislation. CSX’s lawsuit, however, centers on a law enacted nine years ago: the 2014 Transportation Fuel Equity Act.
The law imposes a 17 cents-per-gallon tax on railroad diesel fuel, but it effectively exempts water carriers and motor carriers — CSX’s main competitors, the lawsuit claims. Trucking companies pay a separate Highway User Fuel Tax intended to support maintenance of the state’s roadways. CSX argues railroads are being singled out for taxation in violation of a federal law that prohibits the imposition of discriminatory taxes on railroad carriers.
Last year CSX sought a refund of the taxes it has paid since 2014, but was denied. The denial was “unjust, illegal and incorrect,” the suit claims.
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