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Roberson to seek reduction in car registration tax

Updated Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 | 4:20 p.m.

Sen. Michael Roberson

Sen. Michael Roberson

State Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, said today that he wants to cut the taxes Nevadans pay on their vehicles in half.

“It costs too much for a person in Nevada to register their car,” he said.

He said he hears from Nevadans all the time that they’re unhappy with the amount they have to pay to register their vehicles.

That cost has increased during the past few years because the Legislature hiked the Governmental Services Tax -- a tax Nevadans have to pay when registering a vehicle every year-- following the 2009 legislative session.

The governor’s budget accounts for $63 million in car taxes each year of the next two fiscal years. Roberson’s bill would cut that revenue in half, opening a hole in the governor’s budget that he said could be fixed with money coming in from a potential sales tax on services.

“If tax reform is doable this session, one of the first places I’d look is cutting the

Governmental Services Tax,” Roberson said.

The increased vehicle registration tax is part of a larger package of taxes passed to pave over budget gaps opened during the economic downturn.

But Roberson said now is the time to reduce those fees for Nevadans because they hit working and lower-income Nevadans the hardest.

He said he plans to ask legislative legal staff on Monday to draft a bill that would “dramatically lower” the cost of registering a car in Nevada.

“I do think that is a regressive tax,” he said. “Car registration fees need to go down.”

Monday is the deadline for legislators to file bill draft requests, which direct legislative legal staff to draft an actual bill.

Roberson said he has not yet talked to Senate Democrats about the bill.

Roberson's bill likely will become a bargaining chip during the debate over how to reform the state's tax structure.

Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, a North Las Vegas Democrat, said the sales tax on services proposal is not a clear way to raise revenue to replace the car fees.

“Is it going to be enough to fund all the things we're supposed to?” she said.

Kirkpatrick also said that a sales tax on services could be as regressive as the car fees, depending on which services the Legislature taxes.

“You have to be thoughtful when you do sales tax on services,” she said. “I believe that we have to look at that and ensure that everybody is paying their fair share. However, what we don't want to do is put a regressive type tax on people who are always paying their fair share.”

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