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Legislature considers reducing vehicle fees
Tax Collector wants to save motorists money
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Pinellas County Tax Collector Diane Nelson is taking proactive measures in anticipation of the Florida Legislature passing a bill to reduce motor vehicle renewal fees.
CLEARWATER – The Florida House and Senate are considering legislation that would lower the cost of vehicle registrations beginning Sept. 1.

The Florida House Finance & Tax Subcommittee introduced a $400 million motor vehicle fee reduction as part of a priority tax cut package March 13. The same day, the Senate Committee on Appropriations unanimously approved Senate Bill 156, Motor Vehicle License Taxes.

Senate Bill 156 reduces certain annual fees paid to register a motor vehicle to the amount paid prior to 2009. Based on the latest estimates, the bill reduces fees by $395 million, according to a Senate press release.

Annual vehicle registration fees went up in 2009, when state general revenue collections declined more than 22 percent from their high in 2005-2006.

According to a press release from the House, if the bill passes, registration costs would be reduced by $25.05 for heavy weight vehicles, $21.55 for middleweight vehicles, and $18.55 for lightweight vehicles. The House proposal constitutes $309 million in tax relief in fiscal year 2014-15, and $395 million on an annual basis.

These reductions are part of the proposed $500 million tax cut, which is the “largest tax and fee cut of its kind in over a decade,” according to House officials.

Pinellas County tax collector takes action

In a proactive effort, Tax Collector Diane Nelson announced March 12 that she is removing the two-year renewal option from motor vehicle renewal notices.

“If this bill passes, I want to give Pinellas County residents the opportunity to take advantage of the savings it will offer,” Nelson said in a press release. “I would be disheartened if someone missed out on the opportunity to save money because they were not informed of the pending legislation and potential savings.”

In 2013, 9 percent of Pinellas County residents took advantage of the biennial registration. If this bill passes with a conservative estimate of $12.50 in annual savings per registration, Pinellas County residents would save approximately $500,000 by holding off on biennial renewals until the new rates are established, Nelson said.

Residents can still renew their registrations for two years. They need to write “two year renewal” on their registration renewal return card and double the amount to be paid. There is no cost advantage with two-year registration renewals, they are offered as a matter of convenience, Nelson said.

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