August 26, 2002
Trailer renewal fees to increase in September
Towing a trailer on Washington state roads will cost more starting in September.
Trailer registration renewal notices mailed recently to personal trailer owners reflect fee increases passed by the Legislature last spring. The new law makes all noncommercial trailers subject to the state's general $30 annual license tab fee currently charged for cars, motor homes and motorcycles.
The new law affects trailers with registration renewals due on or after September 1, 2002. The trailers subject to the new fee fall into three general categories: personal trailers, small personal trailers, and travel trailers.
The personal trailer and small personal trailer classifications both include most kinds of trailers, like boat, horse and utility trailers. The difference is in the size and number of wheels the trailer has. A small personal trailer weighs less than 2,000 pounds and has two wheels. If a trailer weighs more than 2,000 pounds, or has more than two wheels, it is placed in the general personal trailer classification.
Travel trailers are recreational trailers pulled behind a vehicle and designed for living in without having to hook up to external utilities.
The new law eliminates the small trailer classification and creates just one class of personal trailers. It also makes this single trailer classification subject to a $30 license tab fee.
In 2000, general trailer and travel trailer owners saw their annual registration fees drop from $23.75 to nothing when the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax was repealed and replaced with a $30 license tab fee. Legislators recognized this omission and corrected it during the 2002 legislative session. The new law reinstates an annual registration fee for these vehicles. Small personal trailers had been the subject to an annual registration fee of $3.25.
Trailer owners in areas with additional local fees and taxes will see increases above the $30 basic fee. All trailers registered in King, Pierce, Snohomish and Douglas Counties are now also subject to the $15 local option fees collected in those areas. The local option fee was imposed by county governments to pay for transportation-related programs.
All personal trailers registered within the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) boundaries also are assessed the regional RTA tax. The RTA areas include the urban areas of King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties. The RTA tax, used to fund Sound Transit, was a voter-approved measure. Travel trailers are not subject to the RTA tax.
In 2001, there were 163,307 trailers, 294,739 personal trailers and 104,358 travel trailers registered in Washington state. Lawmakers expect the new trailer registration fees to generate about $15.8 million for deposit into the state Motor Vehicle Fund, State Patrol Highway Account and the Puget Sound Ferries Operations Account.