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Buyer’s remorse: Fee increase on car tabs is ‘our fault’

Washington car tabs. (MyNorthwest)

Seattle area drivers have seen a dramatic increase in fees on car tabs as a result of the recently voter-approved Sound Transit funding package.

Related: Amid new car tab fees, state rep. fights to keep state honest

“This is all of our fault,” KIRO 7’s Jesse Jones told Ron and Don, ahead of his special report Wednesday night.

“Voters voted on it,” he said. “Sound Transit gave you a calculator; all you had to do was type it in. Do a little bit of research folks. I’m sorry folks. I wish I could turn back the clock. I’m one of those dudes who voted for it … I am a victim of this, but I’m going to own up to my end. I should have read it. And I owe the listeners an apology. I should have done this story back in October (before the vote).”

New car tabs

Sound Transit 3 was approved by 54 percent of voters in November. It collects funds to expand the region’s light rail and supports other mass transit initiatives. Part of that package was a change to car tab fees. But how the government calculates that fee has been greeted with suspicion amid the higher charges. The state uses MSRP figures to calculate a car’s value, instead of the usual depreciation.

“Who pays MSRP?” Jones said. “The guy who bought the Bentley pays MSRP. The guy who bought the Ford Focus got a deal. Nobody pays MSRP. The people who pay MSRP are not complaining about this because they got the money.”

“It’s basically tripling the price of your tabs,” Jones said. “People didn’t know that. They voted for it. Traffic is so bad, people will do anything to get out of it. But I’ll be pushing up grass by the time (ST3) gets done.”

The Associated Press reported about one dramatic example of a local man who previously paid $200 for tabs on his Tesla. He now pays more than $1,500.

“Seattle is liberal, but it’s to the point now we’ll say ‘yes’ to anything,” Jones said. “People are mad, and I get it. ST3. $54 billion. Somehow you have to fund the trains and all of that from Tacoma up to Everett.”

“People need to know what happens when you vote for things like this and you aren’t paying attention,” he said. “That’s what I’m seeing. I’m seeing people with buyer’s remorse.”

Ron and Don on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM

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About the Author

Dyer Oxley

Dyer Oxley joined the team in April 2015. He graduated from Portland State University and has worked as a reporter in the Puget Sound region since 2011. Email Dyer at


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