License tab fees varied on her pickup and her Subaru

The in basket: Laura Logan read the April 9 Road Warrior about the state’s listing separately the $2 portion of license tab renewal fees to make the plates reflective, and said hers was $4.
She also said the fees for her 1989 Chevrolet pickup and her 2004 Subaru, which she had to pay only about a month apart this year, didn’t match. She had a 75 cent processing fee on the Subaru but not on the pickup, and a $58 gross weight fee on the truck but a basic $30 license fee then a $10 “weight-based” fee on the car. Why the discrepancy, she wondered.
The out basket: Brad Benfield of the state Department of Licensing said, “Trying to explain all of the special cases and exceptions (in the vehicle licensing fee structures) in even a general way would fill ten or twelve of your columns.”
But there are reasons for what Laura experienced, and he spelled them out as succinctly as he could.
First of all, the $2 fee for reflectorizing the plates is per plate, and since vehicles need two plates, it comes to $4.
“The 75-cent license services fee is collected on most vehicles, but not all,” Brad said. “State law exempts vehicles that pay registration based on gross
weight from this particular fee. This is why it is not charged on pickup trucks.
“There are two basic … fee structures. One is the standard basic license fee structure and the other is the
gross weight fee structure. Each vehicle is subject to one of these based on the type of vehicle it is or how it is registered.
“Passenger vehicles (includes SUVs) and motorcycles are subject to the $30 basic state licensing fee. The new weight-based fee is calculated on
scale weight, and is not considered a gross weight fee.
“Trucks and commercial vehicles are subject to gross weight registration
fees. This means the basic licensing fee paid by the owner is based on
the weight of the vehicle plus cargo capacity. They pay this fee instead
of the $30 basic state licensing fee.
“The general rule of thumb for
pickup trucks is that the gross weight is 150 percent of the vehicle’s
scale weight. So if a truck weights 4,000 pounds empty, the fees are
based on a gross weight of 6,000 pounds.
“When the Legislature imposed the new weight-based registration fees,
they added it on to the cost of the registration for passenger vehicles
and motorcycles so it is listed separately. For vehicle subject to gross
weight fees, it is included in the overall gross weight fee.
“Overall, the total licensing fees for passenger cars and pickup trucks
of similar weight are very similar,” Brad concluded.

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