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Double Pay FL Motor Fuel Tax? SEI Fuel Services Wins Big!


In a recent legal battle, SEI Fuel Services Inc found itself entangled in the intricate web of Florida motor fuel tax regulations. The Department of Revenue's denial of SEI Fuel Services, Inc.'s request for a partial refund of double-paid motor fuel taxes sparked a contentious legal journey. In this blog post, we delve into the details of the case, exploring the legal nuances and implications that unfolded during this dispute.

Background of the Case

SEI Fuel Services, Inc., a supplier of motor fuel to 7-Eleven stores, faced the Department of Revenue's rejection of its plea for a partial refund. The crux of the matter revolved around double-paid motor fuel taxes totaling $3,179,675.11. SEI Fuel Services, Inc. initially paid the tax amount to its upstream supplier, Sunshine Gasoline Distributors, Inc., who then remitted the payment to the Department. However, a subsequent payment of the same fuel tax, in the same amount, was made directly to the Department by SEI Fuel Services, Inc. The discovery of this double-payment during a routine audit triggered a legal battle to reclaim the erroneously paid funds.

Legal Interpretations and Disputes

The case hinged on the interpretation of Section 206.414(3) Florida Statutes, which the Department cited as the basis for denying SEI Fuel Services, Inc.'s refund request. In the Department’s view, refunds are prohibited under the statute for certain taxes paid to an upstream supplier, and SEI Fuel Services, Inc. conceded this point regarding the first payment made through Sunshine.

However, the pivotal argument arose regarding the second payment made directly to the Department. SEI Fuel Services, Inc. contended that this direct payment was eligible for a refund under Section 215.26, which provides for refunds for overpaid taxes, payments made where no tax is due, or other payment errors. The Department countered, asserting that the first payment through an unlawful channel barred any refund, and only the direct payment satisfied the tax obligation.

Court's Decision: A Legal Victory for SEI Fuel Services, Inc.

The appellate court, after a thorough review, disagreed with the Department's interpretation. The court emphasized that the Department had received and accepted both payments, resulting in a double receipt of the owed amount. SEI Fuel Services, Inc.'s first tax payment through its supplier had satisfied the required tax, and the subsequent direct payment was deemed eligible for a refund as an overpayment or payment error.

In light of this, the court reversed the Department's decision and remanded the case for the issuance of a refund for SEI Fuel Services, Inc.'s direct payment. The ruling highlighted the statutory provisions allowing for refunds in cases of overpayment and emphasized that the Department should not create additional penalties for the taxpayer.

Conclusion: Navigating the Maze of Motor Fuel Tax

This case serves as a reminder of the complexities surrounding motor fuel tax regulations in Florida. SEI Fuel Services, Inc.'s legal victory underscores the importance of a meticulous understanding of statutory provisions and a strategic approach to seeking refunds in cases of double payments. For businesses grappling with similar tax disputes, it emphasizes the need for legal expertise to navigate the intricate terrain of motor fuel tax laws.

THE AUTHOR: Gerald "Jerry" Donnini II is a partner of the Law Offices of Moffa, Sutton, & Donnini, P.A. Mr. Donnini concentrates in the area of Florida and Federal tax matters, with a heavy emphasis on the tobacco, convenience store and petroleum industries. He also handles a myriad of multi-state state and local tax issues.

THE FIRM: Moffa, Sutton, & Donnini, PA is a Florida based law firm focused on state and local taxes. Our job is to represent businesses against the state of Florida (and other states) for state taxes ranging from sales and use tax, reemployment tax, communications services tax, tobacco taxes, and motor fuel taxes. Formed in 1991, our firm has represented thousands of businesses from audit through appellate litigation.

Are you facing challenges with motor fuel tax compliance or disputes? Our experienced legal team specializes in navigating the complexities of Florida motor fuel tax laws. Contact us today for a comprehensive consultation to ensure your business stays on the right side of the law while maximizing opportunities for refunds. Contact Jerry Donnini, Esq at or 954-642-9390.


SEI FUEL SERVICES INC v FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE, No. 1D2022-3284, (FL 1st DCA, 2-14-24) - Court held that the appellant was entitled to a refund of over $3 million in fuel taxes because the taxes had already been paid by another company.