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FRIDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2006
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Law gives permanent
tag option for trailers

By Sheryl Marsh
DAILY Staff Writer

smarsh@decaturdaily.com · 340-2437

A law that became effective Oct. 1 gives owners of tractor-trailers, truck trailers or semi-trailers the option of purchasing a permanent tag.

The law does not cover utility trailers.

Owners may choose to register their trailers annually and pay a $20 registration fee or buy a permanent license plate for a one-time fee of $60, according to Morgan County License Commissioner Sue Baker Roan.

“The law gives them another choice other than the yearly registration,” Roan said.

Alabama Revenue Commissioner Tom Surtees explained how it benefits trucking companies.

“The permanent trailer tag option is viewed as a welcome change by many in Alabama’s trucking community who have worked to streamline the registration process for motor carriers,” Surtees said.

The permanent license plate is valid for the life of the trailer or as long as the same owner keeps it, Roan explained.

If owners select permanent registration, they will have to file a business personal property tax return with the revenue commissioner’s office during the period from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31 each year. Since business personal property tax is paid in arrears, it would be paid the following tax year.

“They would pay ad valorem taxes on the depreciated value of the vehicle,” said Revenue Commissioner Amanda Scott

If there is a loss of revenue for the state Road and Bridge Fund from the permanent trailer tag, commercial tag registration fees will increase, according to state officials.

The legislation also covers motor carriers enrolled in the International Registration plan, which is an agreement among states and provinces of Canada.

Carla Snellgrove, a spokeswoman for the state department, explained that the agreement lets trailer owners purchase one tag in their base state rather than buy one for each state in which they travel. Snellgrove said the state department collects and distributes fees to the other jurisdictions.

Beginning in January, IRP participants will be issued a multi-year license plate for a five-year period. They would pay the same fees and taxes each year and continue to receive new cab cards.

Morgan Deputy License Commissioner Patsy Dougherty explained that other states have always issued permanent plates for trailers.

“The state found that when trucking companies were based here they would buy their trailer plates from one of the surrounding jurisdictions,” Dougherty said. “By offering the permanent plates, the state is hoping to recoup some of the revenue.”

“The Alabama Trucking Association worked to get the legislation passed and it will benefit the trucking industry,” Dougherty added. “Our office hasn’t had any requests for the permanent plates.”

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