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Lafayette County to consider adopting annual wheel tax
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Lafayette County Highway Commissioner, Tom Jean, presented the possibility of implementing an annual vehicle registration fee or wheel tax in Lafayette County, to the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors at their last meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 24.
    The tax, if implemented, would apply annually to all vehicles kept in Lafayette County with an automobile registration or a truck registration at 8,000 pounds or less, except for dual purpose farm trucks.
    According to Jean, the last countywide census counted approximately 14,000 vehicles of that nature that could be taxed within the county. As state law does not specify the amount of the tax, that would be up to the county to designate.
    Jean stated that if the county were to implement the tax at $20 per vehicle, that would bring in an approximate $280,000 sum for the county to use for transportation purposes. Law requires that any revenue brought in on this tax only be used for transportation.
    The Lafayette County Board plans to consider implementing this tax at the next county board meeting to be held on March 17 at 7 p.m.
    In counties and municipalities that have adopted this tax, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation collects the tax each year for the county/municipality, keeping an administrative fee of 10 cents per vehicle and then sends the remainder of the collected tax to the county or municipality.
    The tax is collected at the time of the first registration and at each registration renewal. The certificate of registration will then indicate that the tax was paid. If a vehicle owner gives a false location of where the vehicle is typically kept in an effort to avoid the tax, they could be fined up to $200 and/or imprisoned up to six months.
    Counties that have implemented this tax include: St. Croix County at $10 per vehicle, Chippewa County at $10 per vehicle as of January 2015 and Iowa County at $20 per vehicle as of February 2015.
    Municipalities with the tax include: the city of Janesville at $10, the city of Milwaukee at $20, the city of Beloit at $10 through January 2015 and increased to $20 starting in February 2015, the city of Appleton at $20 as of February 2015 and the township of Arena at $20 to begin in April 2015.
    There are some special plates that are exempt from the tax including: Antique, Collector, Ex-Prisoner of War, Historic Military, Hobbyist, Medal of Honor and US Veteran Motorcycle. All special plates issued to a farm truck, dual purpose farm truck or motor home are also exempt.