State House OKs bill for car tab credits

OLYMPIA — A bill to lessen the financial blow of a voter-approved increase in Sound Transit car tab fees cleared the state House late Wednesday.

Voters in November hiked the motor vehicle excise tax rate by 0.8 percent to help pay for the Sound Transit 3 expansion plan.

Under House Bill 2201, the regional transit authority must stop using a 1996 depreciation schedule in calculating its excise tax and switch to a schedule adopted by lawmakers in 2006. The newer grid better reflects a car’s actual value and will result in an overall smaller car tab fee increase.

The bill creates a Market Value Adjustment Program and directs Sound Transit to give vehicle owners a credit equal to the difference in the amounts owed under the older and newer depreciation schedules. For 2017, vehicle owners would get a refund. Democratic lawmakers say this will save car owners $780 million through 2028 which is when Sound Transit intended to begin using the newer depreciation grid.

House Bill 2201 passed 64-33 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Meanwhile, the Senate has approved a bill to cut the Sound Transit excise tax rate and require use of Kelley Blue Book or National Auto Dealers Association valuations for vehicles. That legislation is pending in the House.

The legislative session is scheduled to end April 23.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

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