When a Franklin resident went to register his two scooters to meet a new state law, he was shocked when he was charged about $50 more than expected — more than either his motorcycle or his car.
The total bill was almost three times as much as Daniel Kubinski expected to pay to get plates for the small scooters he rides around the neighborhood for fun when the weather is warm. He said the state had said the charge would be $36.35 for a scooter.
But he also paid additional fees he didn’t expect, including a $25 wheel tax for each scooter and for 18 months of taxes, instead of a single year. Kubinski could afford it but was concerned that teenagers or scooter drivers with a low income wouldn’t be able to afford the large fees.
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“I was in shock. I said, ‘What!?’ The $168 is more than on a car,” Kubinski said.
It’s a problem other scooter owners in the county could face when registering their vehicles for the first time.
A new state law requires scooter owners to register and get license plates. The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles said owners would need to pay a $26.35 registration fee and $10 excise tax. But officials also said that number didn’t include any local taxes, and they also didn’t note that workers could be registering you for more than one year, like happened to Kubinski.
Drivers don’t have to pay for more than one year of registration fees, so BMV workers should ask whether a person wants to pay a partial year for just 2015 or pay extra to have their registration good through 2016, bureau spokesman Josh Gillespie said.
But what — if anything — can be done about the $25 wheel tax isn’t as clear.
The wheel tax, which is a local tax charged on vehicles that helps pay for road repairs in the county, is set by the Johnson County Council and charged whenever you register your vehicle.
County council members had said in recent months that they didn’t think scooter owners, who are often teenagers or people who had their license revoked, should have to pay as much as cars because the vehicles don’t damage the roads.
For example, the county charges $15 for small trailers or motorcycles, since those lighter vehicles don’t cause much wear and tear on roads.
State law doesn’t allow counties to charge a different rate, so state Rep. John Price is trying to get lawmakers to approve a bill allowing county councils to tweak the fee.
The county council chose not to approve a local ordinance setting the rate because of their concerns. Before Jan. 1, when the law took effect, county officials weren’t sure what would be collected locally since they didn’t approve the fee.
Now, council member Beth Boyce wants the council to quickly fix the local problem, if it can.
“Whatever the minimum would be is what we would charge. In no way, $25 is fair,” Boyce said. “That’s what worries me now is how quickly — whatever the remedy is — how quickly can we do that.”
Kubinski’s registration bill came out to $81.76 for each of his two scooters. That included the $26.35 registration fee, $10 excise tax and $25 wheel tax. But Kubinski also was confused that he was charged a partial payment of $14.58 in wheel tax and $5.83 in excise tax.
Those taxes are what scooter owners are paying for 2015, since the current vehicle registration year includes 2015 to 2016, Gillespie said. Registration deadlines in the state are decided by last name, so how much you pay depends on when you typically renew your registration. The partial taxes would be charged any time a person is registering their vehicle for the first time, Gillespie said.
Kubinski was the first to report a concern with paying fees for more than one year since the beginning of the year, Gillespie said. As of Friday, about 1,600 scooters had been registered statewide, he said.
Gillespie said BMV workers should be asking whether people want to register their scooters for only up to their expiration date in 2015 or to pay extra now to register into 2016.
If you’re registering your scooter, as required under a new state law that took effect Jan. 1, you may end up paying more than expected at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Here’s a look at what one Franklin resident discovered when registering his scooters:
State charges: $26.35 registration fee and $10 excise tax, which goes to the state.
County wheel tax: $25, which goes to the county to pay for road repairs.
*Prior year tax: $5.83 excise tax and $14.58 wheel tax.
Total: $81.76 per scooter
*This charge would vary depending on your normal registration date. The prior year tax represents what you pay for a partial year from now until your expiration date in 2015. The other charges — the $26.35 fee, $10 excise tax and $25 wheel tax — are full-year charges for 2015 to 2016.