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AGAT Transport Inc. v. Employment Department

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 04-17-2013
Case #: A149896
Hadlock, J. for the Court; Schuman, P.J; and Wollheim, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A149896.pdf

Tax Law: In assessing unemployment tax, the Employment Department looks to ORS 670.600 to determine if a person qualifies as an independent contractor.

AGAT Transport, Inc. sought review of a final order that affirmed a tax assessment by the Employment Department. The Employment Department's tax section sent a Notice of Tax Assessment to AGAT claiming they owed unemployment insurance tax for 2008 and 2009. AGAT requested and was granted a hearing on the tax assessment. AGAT claimed that the drivers were independent contractors and not employees, thereby relieving AGAT of the obligation to pay the unemployment tax. Additionally, AGAT argued that one driver in particular was exempt from the unemployment tax because the driver had leased a vehicle to AGAT, making this driver a for-hire carrier. The ALJ found that the drivers were employees and not independent contractors because the drivers were controlled by AGAT and were not engaged in an independently established business. The ALJ issued a final order affirming the tax assessment. AGAT sought review. The Court of Appeals held that under ORS 670.600 the drivers were not independent contractors, however, it was not clear whether the ALJ considered evidence regarding the individual driver. Reversed and remanded for reconsideration of AGAT's contention that driver Kotlyarenko was the lessor of a for-hire carrier; otherwise affirmed.