Eyman launches lawsuit to enforce I-776's $30 car tabs

By Jim Cour
Associated Press
Everett Herald


EVERETT, Wash. - A Snohomish County Superior Court judge Thursday refused to bar the state from collecting the Sound Transit motor vehicle excise tax here.

Plaintiffs in a lawsuit bankrolled by anti-tax activist Tim Eyman had sought to block the tax collection.

"We're pleased," said spokesman Lee Somerstein of the three-county transit agency.

Both sides anticipate the tax issue will eventually be settled by the state Supreme Court. The levy is collected by the state Department of Licensing on top of the state's $30 car-tab fee, the first issue tackled by Eyman through the initiative process.

"It's a marathon, not a sprint," said Eyman, who attended the proceeding before Judge Kenneth Cowsert.

Eyman contends the transit tax was repealed in November, when voters, facing the issue for a second time, approved Initiative 776 to limit the annual vehicle license tax to $30.

Sound Transit officials continued imposing a 0.3 percent tax on cars' value in parts of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties because the money was needed to repay bonds. The state argued that it is constitutionally required to collect taxes covering bond obligations, and Cowsert agreed.

The initiative was the subject of another court hearing Friday in Seattle, when King and Pierce counties and the city of Tacoma asked a judge to block the initiative. Those counties want to continue to collect a $15 road fee, also imposed on top of the $30 tab fee.

Eymann said he expects a ruling next week in that case from King County Superior Court Judge Mary Yu.

Cutting the price of vehicle licenses to a flat $30 was the aim of I-776, which 51 percent of voters approved last fall.


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