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Thursday, May 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

County Says State Cheats It on DMV Fees

(CN) - California's Department of Motor Vehicles misallocates millions of dollars from car registrations, abandoned car fees and fuel taxes because it uses an inaccurate system of ZIP codes to determine where to send the money, Tehama County says.

Tehama County says neighboring Shasta County gets money Tehama should receive, because a ZIP code "does not reflect the county in which the owner resides, as required by vehicle code."

The DMV policy is to assign vehicles to a county based on the owner's ZIP code, Tehama County claims in Sacramento Superior Court. But this is a flawed system, because a ZIP code does not accurately reflect the county in which addresses are located, "and certainly does not reflect the county in which the owner resides, as required by vehicle code."

Tehama County says at least 4,200 vehicles assigned to Shasta County belong to owners who live in Tehama County. Because so many cars are erroneously registered to Shasta County, Tehama County loses revenue from fuel and highway use taxes and abandoned vehicle and pollution fees, which are allocated based on the number of cars registered in the county.

Tehama County notified state Controller John Chiang and DMV Director George Valverde, but says the state has not complied with its obligation to correctly record the vehicle registrations.

It asks the court to force the state to determine how many vehicles are registered in each county based on the real addresses and distribute vehicle taxes accordingly.

It is represented by Tehama County Counsel William Murphy of Red Bluff.

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