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Drivers facing sticker shock in latest car-tab renewal bills

SEATTLE, Wash. -- Some drivers in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties are experiencing sticker shock with the latest round of car-tab renewal bills arriving in the mail.

The increase in car-tab fees is connected to the passage of Sound Transit 3, a major transportation package that was approved overall by voters in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties last November.

Driver Robert Klem, who voted for Regional Transportation Authority Proposition No. 1, expected his car tabs to go up by $100-200, he said. But when he recently got his renewal bill in the mail from the Washington State Department of Licensing, he was stunned.

The Tesla owner paid about $500 for car-tabs last year, he said.

He's now being charged more than $1,500, he said.

"When I opened the bill and saw that it was about $1,000 more... Of course my wife was in the car with me. Her first reaction was ‘We’re selling the car.’" Klem said. "I think it was just stunning the amount."

The drastic jump largely stems from last fall's expansion of Sound Transit, which was approved by 54% of voters in the general election.

It raises the car-tab tax by 0.8% based on a vehicle's value. For a car worth $10,000, it equals out to about $80.

"I don’t think there’s anything that they did wrong on this," Klem said. "It just may have been something that I wasn’t as informed as I should have been about."

Klem now worries what the increased fees will mean for his son’s car in August and his wife’s SUV early next year, he said.

"If I knew that it would go up this much, would I not have voted for it? It’s surely possible," he said.

If you live in King, Pierce, or Snohomish Counties and your car-tabs expire on or after March 1, 2017, expect to see the increased fee on your car-tab renewal bill.

Sales taxes and property taxes are also impacted by the passage of ST3.

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