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Moulton car dealer asks council to slice auto tax

By Kristen Bishop 340-2443

MOULTON — The owner of John Carpenter Ford in Moulton urged council members Monday to decrease or eliminate the city's auto sales tax to encourage area residents to buy vehicles locally.

Moulton adds a 1 percent sales tax to all used and new vehicles purchased in the city. Lawrence County adds an additional 1.5 percent, and the state adds 2 percent, making the total auto tax paid on vehicles purchased in Moulton 4.5 percent.

John Carpenter said that's more than customers pay in nearby counties, leading many Lawrence County residents to spend their money elsewhere.

In Muscle Shoals, car buyers pay 2.5 percent total auto taxes, 0.375 percent to the city and 0.188 percent to Colbert County.

Carpenter said that makes a huge difference when someone is purchasing a $40,000 to $50,000 pickup truck.

"When it's almost double other places, it costs a lot to me, and we lose business to Colbert County," he said. "Even for a medium-priced vehicle, that's a $500 or $600 difference."

Rep. Jody Letson, D-Hillsboro, plans to introduce a bill to lower the county's tax to 1 percent. Letson said he'll talk to other legislators and the Lawrence County Commission first.

"I'll run it by them before I introduce it," he said. "It seems unfair to me that people are paying more in our county than they are in others."

Moulton Mayor Ray Alexander said he would consider lowering the city's auto tax if the county lowered its tax.

"I'd be willing to cut that 1 percent, but I don't hardly see how, in good conscience, we could totally cut it out because we have other people that don't want to pay taxes either," he said.

"I'd be willing to cut ours by a half (percentage) if the county cuts theirs a half."

Council members agreed to discuss the issue at their next work session.

Carpenter urged them to act quickly because more people would become aware that they can purchase vehicles cheaper in other counties once the media prints his request.

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