DRS: Ruling 93-14, Sales and Use Taxes / Commercial Trucks

 

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE SERVICES

450 Columbus Blvd
Hartford CT 06103
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

 

This Ruling is amplified and clarified by Ruling 95-8

Ruling 93-14

Sales and Use Taxes
Commercial Trucks


FACTS:

A company sells and leases cranes and hydraulic excavators that are mounted on truck chassis. In some instances, the crane or hydraulic excavator is mounted on the chassis by the manufacturer of the truck chassis and, in other instances, by a person that is not such manufacturer. Some of the vehicles on which a crane is mounted are designed primarily for the transportation of property, and others are not so designed. None of the vehicles is designed to draw a semitrailer. Each of the vehicles on which a crane or hydraulic excavator is mounted has a gross vehicle weight rating in excess of 26,000 pounds and is capable of moving over the road at highway speeds.


ISSUE:

Whether a vehicle with a truck chassis on which a crane or hydraulic excavator is mounted is a "commercial truck," "truck tractor" or "tractor," the sale of which is exempt from sales and use taxes under Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-412(70).


DISCUSSION:

Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-412(70) exempts from the sales and use taxes sales, rentals and leasing of commercial trucks, truck tractors, tractors ... which ... have a gross vehicle weight rating in excess of 26,000 pounds ....

The terms "commercial," "truck," "truck tractor" and "tractor" are not defined in the Sales and Use Taxes Act. The General Assembly has defined these terms, for purposes of chapter 246, in Conn. Gen. Stat. 14-1. It provides in pertinent part:

(a) Terms used in this chapter shall be construed as follows, unless another construction is clearly apparent from the language or context in which the term is used or unless the construction is inconsistent with the manifest intention of the general assembly:...

(11) "Commercial motor vehicle" means a vehicle designed or used to transport passengers or property ... which (A) has a gross vehicle weight rating of twenty-six thousand and one pounds or more ......

(47) "Motor vehicle" means any vehicle propelled or drawn by any nonmuscular power, except ... any ... vehicle not suitable for operation on a highway;...

(80) "Tractor" or "truck tractor" means a motor vehicle designed and used for drawing a semitrailer;...

(83) "Truck" means a motor vehicle designed, used or maintained primarily for the transportation of property ....

In enacting 1991 Conn. Pub. Acts 3, 117 (June Spec. Sess.), "the legislature is presumed to have acted with knowledge of existing statutes and with an intent to create one consistent body of laws [citations omitted]." Zachs v. Groppo, 207 Conn. 683, 696, 542 A.2d 1145 (1988). Therefore, the Department will refer to the definitions in Conn. Gen. Stat. 14-1 in construing terms used in Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-412(70).

Furthermore, the Connecticut Supreme Court has established principles of statutory construction that govern the applicability of a tax exemption.

First, statutes that provide exemptions from taxation are a matter of legislative grace that must be strictly construed against the taxpayer. Second, any ambiguity in the statutory formulation of an exemption must be resolved against the taxpayer. Third, the taxpayer must bear the burden of proving the error in an adverse assessment concerning an exemption.

Plastic Tooling Aids Laboratory, Inc. v. Commissioner of Revenue Services, 213 Conn. 365, 369, 567 A.2d 1218 (1990).

The vehicles under consideration in this ruling are not designed to draw semitrailers; consequently, they are not "tractors" or "truck tractors." Whether they are "trucks" depends on whether they are designed, used or maintained primarily for the transportation of property. It is not enough that they have truck chassis, although it would have been a simple matter for the General Assembly, had it intended to require that "trucks" need only have truck chassis, to have so provided. A crane or hydraulic excavator, once permanently mounted on the truck chassis, has become a part of the vehicle. It is no more "property" that is being transported than the cab itself is. Furthermore, as noted in Zachs v. Groppo, supra, the General Assembly can be presumed to have intended the term "property" in the definition of "truck" in Conn. Gen. Stat. 14-1(83) to have the same meaning as used in Chapter 245c of the general statutes (Conn. Gen. Stat. 13b-387 et seq.), which provides for the regulation of motor carriers of property for hire by the Department of Transportation. In Chapter 245c, the term "property" is used to describe items such as agricultural commodities, household goods, commodities in bulk and other items collectively known as "freight." The term "property" is used in a similar manner in the federal law which provides for the regulation of interstate motor carriers by the Interstate Commerce Commission (49 U.S.C. 10102 et seq.). Therefore, only a vehicle that is designed, used or maintained primarily for the transportation of property of a type that is commonly considered "freight" is a "commercial truck", the sale of which is exempt from sales and use taxes under Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-412(70).


RULING:

A vehicle with a truck chassis on which a crane or hydraulic excavator is mounted is a "commercial truck," as the term is used in Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-412(70), only if the vehicle has a gross vehicle weight rating in excess of 26,000 pounds, is suitable for operation on public highways and is designed, used or maintained primarily to transport property of a type commonly considered to be "freight." The sale of such a vehicle is exempt from sales and use taxes under Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-412(70). However, a vehicle with a truck chassis on which a crane or hydraulic excavator is mounted is not a "commercial truck," as the term is used in Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-412(70), even though the vehicle has a gross vehicle weight rating in excess of 26,000 pounds and is suitable for operation on public highways, if it is not designed, used or maintained primarily to transport property commonly considered to be "freight." The sale of such a vehicle is subject to sales and use taxes.


LEGAL DIVISION

July 12, 1993