Plaintiffs target Sound Move car tab

Plaintiffs target Sound Move car tab
Plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Sound Transit have filed a motion for preliminary injunction to prevent the regional transit agency from collecting the motor vehicle excise tax (MVET). Photo:

Now that Sound Transit has rejected a settlement offer in a lawsuit filed against its ST3 motor vehicle excise tax (MVET), the plaintiffs want to block the transit agency from collecting any MVET revenue from a 1996 transit package, due to how Sound Transit incorrectly applied its vehicle depreciation schedule.

Those same plaintiffs challenging ST3’s MVET filed a separate class action lawsuit last week in Pierce County Superior Court against Sound Transit’s 1996 Sound Move MVET that was later modified in 1999 and 2010.

In an Oct. 2 motion for preliminary injunction, plaintiff attorneys Joel Ard and Matthew C. Albrecht argue that Sound Transit and the state “violate the law every day they collect a 0.3% motor vehicle excise tax” because it uses a vehicle depreciation schedule not authorized by the state legislature.

According to the lawsuit, the transit agency is using a now-repealed 1999 depreciation schedule that calculates vehicle values higher than the 2006 schedule approved by the legislature and amended in 2010. The 2010 legislation also included a provision saying the MVET must comply with the 1996 schedule (page 217). However, just before a Sept. 10 State Supreme Court hearing, it was discovered that Sound Transit does not use that 1996 schedule.

“The use of 1999 RCW 82.44.041 has no legal basis—not in any statute, not in any judicial opinion or court order,” the motion for preliminary injunction states.

In a blog post, Washington Policy Center Transportation Director Mariya Frost wrote: “if this sounds complicated or confusing – that is because it is. It shouldn’t be. Knowing what you owe in taxes and how those taxes are calculated should be as easy as reading two pages of clear and transparent state law, and knowing what the right answer is.”

The motion is scheduled for an Oct. 18 hearing in Pierce County Superior Court.


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