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Cash for Clunkers causing SUVs, trucks to retain higher tag values

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If you have an SUV or large truck, and you’ve already had your birthday this year, you may have noticed that you paid the same amount for your tag as last year despite your vehicle’s depreciation.

Ordinarily a vehicle’s value depreciates by a certain percentage each year, depending on the type of vehicle. But, Pickens Tax Commissioner Sharon Troglin explained, values on bigger vehicles like SUVs have stayed the same because of all the vehicles turned in during the government’s Cash for Clunkers program.

 

Along with a vehicle’s value, the county millage rate determines the price of the yearly tag fee. If the millage goes up and values stay the same, the tag fee would increase. Similarly, if the millage goes down along with the vehicle’s value, the tag price drops. Pickens’ millage has remained steady for the past couple of years.

Troglin said Monday that state officials cited the 2009 Cash for Clunkers program as the reason values and tag fees remain steady. When approved by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama, Cash for Clunkers offered up to $4,500 in incentives for consumers to trade-in their older, less fuel-efficient vehicles for newer models that get better fuel economy.

“When they came up with Cash for Clunkers, it caused the value on (new and larger type) vehicles to stay the same,” Troglin said. “Because most people were trading for bigger vehicles, it caused those values to not change that much. The state seems to think the values will shrink again, like they used to, in a couple of years.”

The State Revenue Commissioner is charged with the annual valuation of motor vehicles. Tag bills are due by the owner’s birthday, and the state sends out bills prior to that deadline. Troglin said businesses have until the end of the month to buy tags, but individuals must pay by their birthday.

“Some months there are more birthdays than others, but it averages out about the same,” Troglin said. “It’s better since they (the state) went on birthdays. May 1st used to be the deadline, and the lines were horrendous at that time. Once they did birthdays, it really relieved a lot of lines throughout the state. It helped us a lot.”

Troglin said the heaviest months for renewals are January, July and December.

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