Get ready for higher car tab fees — many drivers will pay double or even triple more than last year

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SEATTLE — When voters approved Sound Transit’s ST3 , they committed to a dramatic expansion of light rail across Puget Sound.

“My wife and I voted for this,” Redmond resident Jim Gold said.

Gold expected his car tab fee to go up to pay for ST3 but didn’t realize it would double.

Gold says his car tab is more than $270 this year.

“I am not driving a Tesla or Ferrari or anything like that,” Gold said.

But because he is driving a newer Honda CRV, he’s taxed a lot more than drivers with older vehicles.

The line item to pay attention to is the Regional Transit Authority Tax, which is Sound Transit's portion.

The car tabs for even older vehicles are up and it’s partly because the state’s inflated formula of how it’s valuing your car.

For example, take a 2009 Hyundai Sonata, with 92,000 miles in good condition with standard equipment, the fair market value according to Kelley Blue Book is about $3,500

The Department of Licensing says it’s $7,800, that’s more than double Kelley Blue Book.

Q13 News asked DOL why their values were higher than the market value.

“It doesn’t factor in mileage or condition or any of those types of things market forces based on location,” DOL spokesperson Brad Benfield said.

Because they don’t factor in those items, the driver of that 2009 Hyundai Sonata will pay 3 times as much in RTA tax.

Sound Transit says the state’s way of calculating the depreciation of your car is a state law and it wont go away until Sound Transit pays off their bonds.

"Because Sound Transit issues bonds we are committed to bond holders that schedule used it’s grandfathered in place until 2028," Sound Transit Spokesperson Brad Benfield said.

So for the next 11 years drivers are stuck with higher bills.

"It's going to get light rail all the way up to Everett in the North Tacoma to the South to West Seattle and Ballard," Patrick said.

The entire expansion will take 25 years, a future that many are hoping is worth the burden.

"I don’t think we realized how it was going to hit our car tabs our first year," Gold said.

Some lawmakers in Olympia is pushing a bill to correct the way DOL calculates a car's value. They want the state agency to use the Kelley Blue Book value.

But Sound Transit is standing firm on the calculation saying law prohibits any changes until 2028.

 

 

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