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Sound Transit valuation schedule questioned by state

State admits error in Sound Transit car tab case

**Update - Oral Arguments in the case are posted online**

First reported by Washington Policy Center’s Mariya Frost – partly based on her research – the state has backed out of testifying in the Sound Transit car tab case before the Supreme Court.

At heart, the issue is whether the language used to authorize Sound Transit car tab tax increases is constitutional. Here is the language used in SB 5987 as passed the legislature in 2015:

More interesting, however, is the Ard Law Group, who is representing frustrated people in three counties, submitted a letter yesterday that outlines a huge descrepency in how Sound Transit charges taxpayers, what they pledge to bonds, and how the law is being applied.

Ard argues that the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax referenced in SB 5987 is wrong. In fact, Sound Transit has been using a different schedule all along. An excerpt from their bond issuance follows:

The letter seems to have affected the state's position on the matter. It acknowledged Ard's analysis - that the valuation schedule Sound Transit has been using was from Referendum 49, Chapter 3121, Laws of 1998, not 1996. The 1996 schedule was much different, taxing newer cars at a higher rate than the 1998/99 schedule, which is also higher than the 2006 schedule meant to replace the 1998/99 schedule and give a fairer valuation.

The state notified “the Court immediately of this error" that its Response Brief and Answer to Amicus Briefs "contain an inaccurate factual statement." Further, the state “will not be presenting at oral argument, which will be handled by Respondent Sound Transit…”

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