Wesson, Inc. v. Hychko

In Wesson, Inc. v. Hychko, 205 Conn. 51, 529 A.2d 714 (1987) the Court found that the legislature's intent in enacting 12-458 was to impose the burden of that tax not on the distributor, but on the fuel purchaser or user, and that the distributor was responsible only for collection and payment "for the account of the purchaser . . . ." Id. The Wesson, Inc., court held that a distributor that was compelled by the state to pay a tax that it had failed to include in its invoice to a buyer because it mistakenly believed the sale was not taxable is entitled to recover from the buyer the taxes it paid on the buyer's behalf. Id., at 59. In so holding, the court stated: "We are not persuaded that the absence of an express statutory provision for reimbursement of the motor vehicle fuel tax forecloses the distributor from resorting to appropriate equitable remedies where he has been legally compelled to pay a tax the incidence of which the legislature intended to impose upon the purchaser. Where property of one person is used in discharging an obligation owed by another . . . under such circumstances that the other would be unjustly enriched by the retention of the benefit thus conferred, the former is entitled to be subrogated to the position of the obligee . . . . This doctrine is inapplicable where the payment has been made officiously, i.e., where the circumstances do not justify the interference with another's affairs resulting from conferring a benefit upon him. . . . A person does not act officiously when he pays another's debt under a mistake or when he has discharged an obligation for which he is also liable, but which another should equitably have paid." Id., at 56-57. General Statutes 12-457 provides: "Each distributor shall keep an accurate record of the number of gallons of such fuels purchased, manufactured, compounded or received by him, the date of any such purchase and the number of gallons sold or used by him. He shall deliver, with each consignment or delivery of such fuels to any purchaser within this state, a written statement of the names and addresses of the vendor and vendee, the number of gallons sold and the date of sale and delivery. Such written statement shall set forth whether or not the required state tax has been charged thereon. Each such record and such statement shall be preserved by such distributor and such purchaser, respectively, for a period of at least three years and shall be offered for inspection upon demand of the commissioner or any officer or agent designated by him. The commissioner shall cause such records and statements to be regularly audited as he shall prescribe and each distributor shall satisfactorily account for all such fuels as have been sold or used by him. Any such fuels unaccounted for by the distributor for which a satisfactory explanation cannot be submitted shall be construed to have been sold or used."