Washington state House votes to reduce car tab taxes

The Washington state House voted 60-37 Wednesday to reduce the Sound Transit car tab taxes that were based on a flawed vehicle valuation.

Voters approved hiking car tab fees to pay for part of the $54 billion Sound Transit 3 package in 2016, but few people anticipated the backlash once renewals hit mailboxes.

The gripe is that cars are taxed on a state depreciation scale based on manufacturer’s suggested retail price, which is usually far higher than a car's real value.

If passed, the bill could help drivers receive a fairer market value on their vehicle. Also, an adjustment program would provide a credit – from the difference between the old and the new tax –  back to the vehicle owners.

The bill now goes to the Senate for discussion.

If passed, Sound Transit estimates a revenue loss of $780 million, but when you factor in the agency not being able to bond against lost revenue, Sound Transit says it's looking at a $2.2 billion loss.

"Any significant reduction in revenue would threaten our ability to deliver our light rail, commuter rail and bus rapid transit projects on the timelines we promised to voters," said Geoff Patrick of Sound Transit.

Patrick said if legislators don't somehow fill the gap, the agency would have to collect taxes longer and delay projects.

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