Sound Transit resurrects monster-size vehicle valuations

The assault on taxpayers’ wallets by Sound Transit and ST3 just won’t end.

  • Friday, March 24, 2017 8:36am
  • Opinion

Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place, represents the 28th Legislative District and Sen. Dino Rossi, R-Sammamish, represents the 45th Legislation District.

You remember the classic vampire movies. The hero repeatedly tries to take down the blood-sucking monster, but it refuses to die. It continues its devastation until, finally, the hero manages to drive a stake through its heart.

For many residents of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, this fiction is a little too close to their nightmare of opening frighteningly high car tab bills – not ones based on the Kelley Blue Book actual value of a vehicle, but on Sound Transit’s hyper-inflated value.

The assault on taxpayers’ wallets by Sound Transit and ST3 – the light-rail extension referendum passed in November – in the form of triple taxes (property, sales and car tabs) just won’t end. Fortunately, we have two lines of defense ready.

For many years, when calculating tabs, the state valued every car at prices no citizen could actually hope to get for their vehicle. Taxpayers rightly resented a Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET) formula based on the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) that no car buyer ever pays.

Citizens thought they had vanquished this tax-sucking MVET formula by initiative in 1999 when they limited the MVET to $30, but the beast would not die. The courts invalidated the initiative.

Taxpayers rose up again with a 2002 initiative, again enacting $30 car tabs and again repealing the unfair MVET schedule. The courts upheld the second initiative and taxpayers rejoiced.

However, as with all great horror flicks, the villain was not done yet. The old MVET schedule lived on through old bonds, and in 2015, Sound Transit authored legislation that cunningly resurrected the repealed MVET formula.

They slipped the schedule into legislation

Sen. Dino Rossi, R-Sammamish, represents the 45th Legislation District. Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place, represents the 28th Legislative District. For more information, visit

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