Sound Transit officials over-value cars so they can get more money from taxpayers

By MARIYA FROST  | 
POLICY NOTES
|
Apr 12, 2017

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Introduction

Recently, I was invited to testify before the Senate Transportation Committee on Senate Bill 5893, which would reduce the unfairness of Sound Transit’s car tab taxes by requiring the agency to tax cars and trucks based on a fair estimate of a vehicle’s market value.

Of nearly 20 legislative bills prompted by Sound Transit’s car tab overcharges, only four would adequately address and eliminate the unfair overcharges taxpayers are receiving in the mail. Senate Bill 5893 is one of those four bills. Below are comments from the testimony I gave on this proposed legislation.

Misleading statements in the 2016 Sound Transit 3 Mass Transit Guide

Sound Transit officials argue that voters approved car tab fees and that car tab information was available to the public when they voted last fall for Sound Transit 3 (ST3) taxes.

However, in the Mass Transit Guide that Sound Transit officials mailed to voters in October 2016, they stated that the measure would include, “A motor vehicle excise tax increase of 0.8 percent or $80 annually for each $10,000 of vehicle value.”

This statement is misleading because officials did not tell voters that the $10,000 in vehicle value would be based on a repealed depreciation schedule that overvalues their cars and in effect, allows Sound Transit to collect maximum revenue from every car owner in the taxing district.

It was already evident that the Mass Transit Guide failed to provide information about the consequences of voting “No” on ST3, but now we know that it also failed to provide information about the consequences of voting “Yes.”