suppliers an extra 20.5 cents per gallon of diesel fuel on all its purchases, representing excise taxes. Bodine's Brief at 2.
Bodine filed several administrative claims for refunds, the first of which was denied on April 20, 1995. Subsequent claims for refunds remained unanswered more than six months after Bodine had filed those claims. Complaint at 3. On June 19, 1995, Bodine filed its complaint in this Court. Id. On March 25, 1996, the United States moved for summary judgment in its favor and against Bodine.
II. Standard for Summary Judgment
A party seeking summary judgment must "show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that [he] is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 (c). See also Hersh v. Allen Products, Co., 789 F.2d 230, 232 (3d Cir. 1986); Lang v. New York Life Ins. Co., 721 F.2d 118, 119 (3d Cir. 1983). The district court must grant summary judgment when there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Orson, Inc. v. Miramax Film Corp., 79 F.3d 1358, 1996 U.S. App. LEXIS 6565, *17, No. 95-1399 (3d Cir. April 1, 1996). In deciding whether there is a disputed issue of material fact the Court must draw all inferences from the underlying facts in favor of the non-moving party. See Hancock Indus. v. Schaeffer, 811 F.2d 225, 231 (3d Cir. 1987) (citation omitted); Pollock v. American Telephone & Telegraph Long Lines, 794 F.2d 860, 864 (3d Cir. 1986).
Once the moving party has properly supported its motion, "its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986). Nonetheless, the moving party on the motion bears the ultimate burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986).
The parties in this case are in agreement with the factual statement outlined above. Thus, the question presented on the government's motion is a question of law and is ripe for summary judgment.
Bodine alleges that, over the relevant period, it paid to the IRS, through its suppliers, more than $ 100,000.00 in excise taxes. Complaint at 3. Bodine argues that it was not able to pass these taxes on to its customers, primarily because any attempt to do so would have placed Bodine at an enormous competitive disadvantage in the marketplace, which would have resulted in the loss of customers. Therefore, Bodine argues, since it paid the excise tax, it should be allowed to recoup the tax through this refund action, especially since the ultimate consumer of the home heating oil, its customers, never paid the tax.
Bodine argues that if it is not entitled to a refund because it is not the "ultimate purchaser," and the "ultimate purchasers" of its home heating oil have no refund to seek because they did not pay the tax, then no one can obtain a refund of these taxes, and the IRS will, in effect, have been permitted to collect taxes on otherwise tax-exempt home heating oil.
The government points to the language of Section 6427 (1) which provides that:
If (A) any diesel fuel on which tax has been imposed by section 4041 or 4081, or . . . by section 4091, is used by any person in a nontaxable use, the Secretary shall pay (without interest) to the ultimate purchaser of such fuel an amount equal to the aggregate amount of tax imposed on such fuel under section 4041, 4081, or 4091, as the case may be.