Here’s an update on one of the more interesting stories I’ve ever covered. First, some history. In 1998, Larry Babins, an astute trucking accountant, filed a claim on behalf of several trucking companies that argued diesel fuel purchased in Canada but consumed in the US should be exempt from federal excise taxes because it was in essence, an exported item. He got the idea after reading about a similar case in the 1800s involving a British shipping line. It took nearly 10 years, and went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, but the carriers won and Revenue Canada was forced to pay out about $15 million in rebates to 117 carriers who were part of the claim. (Before you get any ideas, the feds changed the rules in 2002 to eliminate this loophole).
In instances where the owner/operators purchased the fuel, the rebates, of course, were intended to be passed along to them. But around this time, TransForce bought Highland Transport, which was involved in the initial claim. When TransForce received a cheque from Revenue Canada there were some differing opinions on who should get the money. Thus began a years-long battle between the union representing current and former Highland O/Os and TransForce. That battle came to the end when an agreement was reached just weeks ago that will see about $1 million divided among qualifying owner/operators.
So, who qualifies? If you drove for Highland between the years of 1991 and 2002, bought diesel in Canada during this time and then consumed it stateside, you could be in line to receive a cheque. The union hopes the funds will be distributed within a few weeks. You can read the full story here, as well as previous coverage of this issue.
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