Lessor Fuel Tax Liability Protection Passes in Michigan
ALEXANDRIA, VA — The Michigan Senate voted unanimously to pass legislation supported by the Truck Rental and Leasing Association (TRALA) that eliminates for two years the state's lessor/lessee fuel tax joint and several liability statute.
The bill, HR 5920, passed the Michigan House in September and was approved in the state Senate on the final day of the legislative session. It will now be sent to Governor Jennifer Granholm, who is expected to sign it into law. The House-passed version of HB 5920 contained a permanent repeal of the joint and several fuel tax liability statute. Prior to Senate passage, the bill was amended at the request of the Michigan Treasury Department to limit the protection to a two-year period. While TRALA will continue to push for permanent repeal, the enactment of the two-year repeal of the fuel tax joint and several liability statute is a major step forward.
Prior to the state of Michigan's entry into the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) in 1994, state law required truck lessors to be held jointly and severally liable for unpaid fuel tax. However, the IFTA guidelines address lessor/lessee tax responsibility; establishing that the lease agreement determines whether the lessor or the lessee will be responsible for fuel tax payments. Michigan had never repealed the pre-IFTA liability law and since its entry into the IFTA the state hand not enforced the joint and several liability statute until recently when it assessed a TRALA member for back taxes, penalties, and interest.
TRALA plans to be back before the legislature shortly seeking enactment of permanent repeal legislation. Nine other states currently have outdated joint and several statutes on the books although Michigan is the only state to enforce it since IFTA's inception.