Seattleites' Road Taxes Could Add Up To A Lot | KUOW News and Information

Seattleites' Road Taxes Could Add Up To A Lot

Sep 30, 2015

The cure for some of Seattle’s transportation pains may be tough to swallow: a nearly $800 increase in annual taxes, fees and user charges for the city’s typical household.

That number comes from former state transportation chief Doug MacDonald, who calculated the cost of changes in state tax structure, car-tab charges and proposed levies.

His 30-page report (see it below) says that between 2014 and 2016-17, there could be a 40 percent increase in how much that typical household pays in transportation taxes and other charges.

He said his interest was piqued by his own car tab  notice and saw a lot of different items.

"I'm supposed to be the ex-secretary of transportation and I'm supposed to know what all this stuff is. I can't figure out!" he told KUOW's Ross Reynolds on The Record. And he said nobody else had figured it out either, so he took on the task.

So where does he get those numbers? He says they come from four big areas:

  • 2014 Seattle Proposition 1, which boosted car tab fees to $80 and the city sales tax by one-tenth percent
  • 2015 state transportation spending package, which includes a gas tax increase
  • Proposed 2015 Move Seattle Transportation Levy, which would replace an expiring levy
  • Proposed 2016 Sound Transit 3 revenue/spending plan, which includes increases in car tab fees, sales tax and real estate tax

MacDonald says that transportation-related taxes and fees could rise from $1,975 per household in 2014 to $2,762 in 2016-17.

He gets there by calculating the change in 28 separate revenue streams (if you want more detail, dig into his report, first reported on by the Seattle Times' Danny Westneat). And he doesn’t include things like the new HOV tolls on I-405 or fees for motorcycles, trailers and motor homes.

That increase might seem like a lot, but MacDonald says there’s a cost to not acting to improve infrastructure and spending on mass transit.

He says Seattleites are paying a hidden tax in car maintenance and repair as a result of deteriorating streets – $500 to $900 annually.

So think about that when you’re voting on the Move Seattle levy in November.

Read the report below or see it in PDF form.