KING 5: Car-tab controversy makes its way to the state capitol


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The controversy over increased car-tab fees caused by the passage of Sound Transit Three has now made its way to the state capitol.

Two bills introduced in Olympia could bring drivers and taxpayers some relief.

Senate Bill 5817 would give individual cities and counties the right to opt out of ST3 by nullifying the imposition of certain taxes within regional transit authority boundaries.

“They’d just have to bring it before the city council and have a majority vote and they’re out, it’s pretty simple,” said Senator Dino Rossi.

The 45th District senator is the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 5817.  He felt it was necessary to give local municipalities the right to opt out of taxes imposed by Sound Transit Three, especially if elected officials in those cities and counties feel their communities won’t benefit from the expanded transit service that ST3 is supposed to pay for.

Pierce County, for instance, rejected ST3 last November.  Yet since voters in King County and Snohomish County approved the measure, Pierce County voters within the Sound Transit District will still get hit with the tax increase.

Rossi said the same is true in other areas as well.

“I live in Sammamish, and we get billed for ST3, and we’re probably going to get a park and ride when I’m in a nursing home, that’s about it,” said Rossi.

He’s also proposing Senate Bill 5851, which seeks to address the way that Sound Transit and the Department of Licensing currently calculate the taxable value of your vehicle.

KING 5 spoke to several drivers who questioned why Sound Transit uses the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) to determine a car’s taxable value.

Rossi says he knows exactly why Sound Transit does it.

“It’s a complete and total money grab.  They’re going to scoop up as much of our money as they possibly can,” he said.  “I think it’s dishonest.  Completely dishonest.  To have a value that isn’t market value, or even close to market value.  Kelley Blue book, that’s market value.  National Automobile Dealers Association, that’s market value.  MSRP has never been market value and never will be.”

Senate Bill 5851 states that for the purpose of determining a motor vehicle excise tax imposed by a regional transit authority, the value of a motor vehicle must be based on base model Kelley Blue Book values or National Automobile Dealers Association, whichever is lower.

“We’re doing base model, and using two standard valuation systems for cars.  It’s just very simple.  Everyone can understand that. It’s not convoluted like Sound Transit wants it to be, so complicated that no one will figure it out and everyone will just pay the bill and suck it up,” he said.  “That’s not going to happen.”

Rossi is now working to get both bills before the Senate Transportation Committee.  He says there are companion bills in the House as well.

“Whether the bill gets heard or not, we’re not going to give up,” he said.  “There are things we can do.”

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