Very few taking advantage of Seattle car tab rebate

Sep 1, 2015, 11:19 AM | Updated: 12:20 pm
The city estimated about 51,000 people could take advantage of the program, which would give low-in...
The city estimated about 51,000 people could take advantage of the program, which would give low-income drivers a $20 rebate to the $80 car tab fee increase that went into effect June 1. There's been much less participation than the city anticipated. (File photo)
(File photo)

Almost three months into a car tab rebate program and things aren’t going quite as the City of Seattle planned.

The city estimated about 51,000 people could take advantage of the program, which would give low-income drivers a $20 rebate to the $80 car tab fee increase that went into effect June 1. But the amount of people actually seeking the rebate is less than that &#8212 far less.

KING 5 reports 79 people have applied for rebates and 53 have been approved. Paperwork might be to blame for the low participation.

Car owners are bothered by the four pages of paperwork that asks for identification, social security numbers, and other personal information for anyone in a household that is 18 or older. One low-income musician and photographer told KING 5 that people don’t have the time to fill out the paperwork for $20.

Relief is one the way, according to Gloria Hatcher-Mays of Seattle’s Human Services Department. The city is working on reducing the amount of paperwork by the end of next month, she told KING 5.

The city might want to think about expanding the hours people can receive help with their applications. City staff are currently available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Those hours don’t necessarily work for anyone with a daytime job, especially someone struggling to make ends meet.

In order to qualify for the program, workers have to make 45 percent of less of the median Seattle household income of $62,800. That means a person living alone cannot make more than $28,260 a year, according to the city. A household of two can’t make more than $32,265.

Here’s the thing though: If someone needs to save $20 that badly, four pages of paperwork shouldn’t be an issue. Of course, that could be a pain if there are more than a few people over the age of 18 living in the same house. Still though, $20 is $20.

But maybe the city doesn’t want the rebate program to do well. KING 5 reports that the increased car tab fee has generated more than $2 million extra for transit service since it began. The city estimates the fee will generate about $24 million a year.

It will be interesting to see if more people participate in the program after an awareness campaign launches in the next few months.

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Very few taking advantage of Seattle car tab rebate