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Valero Terrestrial Corp. v. Caffrey

ELR Citation: 30 ELR 20400
Nos. No. 99-1600, 205 F.3d 130/(4th Cir., 03/02/2000)

The court affirms a district court decision that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction under the Tax Injunction Act to review landfill owners' challenge to a West Virginia law that imposes a solid waste assessment charge on the disposal of solid waste at any solid waste disposal facility. The court first holds that the charge is a tax, not a fee. The charge was imposed by the West Virginia legislature and not any administrative agency. Moreover, the charge is imposed on persons disposing of the waste into the landfill and, thus, is paid by those citizens and businesses who pay a collection service fee to have their waste picked up. Further, the benefits of the charge touch a large segment of the West Virginia population. The purpose of the charge is to protect West Virginia's groundwater, therefore, it cannot be said that the purpose serves a small section of society. In addition, the placement of revenue from the charge into a special fund does not render it a fee rather than a tax because the fund benefits the population at large. The Tax Injunction Act therefore divests the district court of jurisdiction in this case.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
William F. Fox Jr.
Solid Waste Services, Inc.
320 Godshall Dr., Harleysville PA 19438
(215) 234-4232

Counsel for Defendants
Silas B. Taylor, Senior Deputy Attorney General
Attorney General's Office
State Capitol
1900 Kanawha Blvd. E., Charleston WV 25305
(304) 558-2021

Before Murnaghan and Williams, JJ.