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New York Requiring Drivers to Buy New License Plates and Pay More to Keep Current Numbers

2 min readBy: Joseph Bishop-Henchman

From Michael Grynbaum of the New York Times:

Beginning in April, car and tractor-trailer owners alike will have to shell out $25 for spruced-up license plates, by dictate of state leaders coming up with new ways to wring out revenue as an unprecedented budget shortfall looms.[…]

The new $25 license plate fee, which will be phased in as drivers begin renewing their two-year vehicle registrations in April, is up from $5.50 in 2001, the last time the state went through a full plate replacement program. Other states, like California, have never charged a fee for mandatory plates.

Drivers who wish to keep the same combination of letters and numbers must pay an additional $20 (holders of vanity plates, who already pay an annual cost, are exempted).

There’s some talk about safety (reflective coating or something) but even the New York DMV admits that a driving purpose for the program is to “generate $129 million in General Fund revenue over two years, which will help address the State’s financial crisis.” (I’m of the opinion that most car inspection taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. es and fees are about revenue, not safety.)

To the extent that the money goes to the general fund and not to pay for the cost of the plate, the money is a tax not a fee.

Jonny Lieberman at the Auto Blog adds it all up for us:

New Yorkers are required to get the new plates. And they cost $25. Want to keep your same license plate number so you don’t have to call and fuss with your insurance company? Or let’s say you want to hang onto an existing vanity plate? That’s going to cost you an extra $20. So if you have three vehicles and are happy with your numbers, these new plates will set you back $135.

A website petition has been launched protesting the move at Interestingly, the driving force behind the petition is president of the New York State Association of County Clerks, who would have to administer all the fees and new plates.

Update: Gerald reminded me that Cosmo Kramer stopped by the New York DMV once.