On September 19, the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors passed by vote of 11-7 (Supervisors Loretta Baughan, Bill Bialecki, Kirby Crosby, Christopher Heller, Tyler Mueller, Frank Saal and Bill Zeitz standing opposed) a Wheel Tax aka ‘Vehicle Registration Fee’ at a cost of $20 annually for all county residents; effective January 1, 2018.
The passage of the ordinance has left many county residents to wonder what the fee means and entails. Below is a quick reference guide of the wheel tax and Frequently Asked Questions. Any additional questions can be forwarded to the Lincoln County Administrative Department at (715) 539-2501.
What Vehicles are subject to the wheel tax?
*An automobile or a motor truck registered under 8,000 pounds gross weight and customarily kept in the municipality or county which enacted the tax. This includes; automobiles, vans and Sport Utulity Vehicles (SUV) that qualify as a passenger vehicle.
*Motor trucks and dual-purpose motor homes (trucks that can be equipped with a slide-in camper unit) registered at a gross weight of 8,000 pounds or less.
*Vehicles with plate types: AUT or LTK are subject to wheel tax, except for Dual-Purpose Farm Trucks.
Are special plates such as disabled, EMT and veteran plates, subject to the wheel tax?
Yes, special plate types are subject to a wheel tax unless registered to a motor home, dual purpose farm truck or vehicle over 8,000 lbs gross weight.
Are there any vehicles exempt from the wheel tax besides motor homes, dual purpose farm trucks and vehicles over 8,000 lbs?
Yes, buses, motorcycles, mopeds are exempt from the wheel tax. Also vehicles registered as Antique, Collector, Driver education, Historic Military Vehicle, Hobbyist, Human Service Vehicle, Low-speed vehicle, Medal of Honor recipient, any municipal or state-owned vehicle and any one vehicle with Prisoner of War registration issued to a qualified individual. Vehicles with registration issued by a Wisconsin Indian tribe or band and any vehicle displaying Dealer, Distributor, Finance Company or Manufacturer plates are also exempt from the wheel tax.
When is the Wheel Tax charged?
The Wisconsin DOT collects the fee at the time of first registration and at the time of each subsequent registration renewal. The Wisconsin DOT sends vehicle registration renewal notices at least 30 days before their plates expire. The renewal notice will show the total fee due, including the wheel tax. The Wisconsin DOT adds a message to renewal notices when a new wheel tax is instituted to alert affected customers of the fee charge.
*Note: As of July 1, 2016, the Wisconsin DOT charges an administrative fee per vehicle application of 17 cents. The administrative fee is the same for all municipalities regardless of the amount of fee imposed by the municipality or the number of vehicles for which the fee is collected.
The Wisconsin DOT sends the wheel tax payments collected, to the municipality no later than 30 days after the end of the month in which they were collected.
Is Lincoln County the only county enforcing a wheel tax?
No, other Wisconsin counties have also enacted a wheel tax. Those counties include that of Chippewa, Iowa, Marathon, Milwaukee and St. Croix Counties.
Wisconsin municipalities currently collecting a wheel tax are: Appleton, Beloit, Arena Township, Fort Atkinson, Gillett, Iron Ridge, Janesville, Kaukauna, Lodi, Milton, Milwaukee, Platteville, Portage, Prairie Du Sac, Sheboygan and Tigerton.
According to Lincoln County Administrative Director Randy Scholz; the county board has three options in terms of the wheel tax in moving forward. The board can choose to renew the wheel tax every year, suspend/nullify the wheel tax after one year or enact the wheel tax indefinitely. At any time, the county board can also nullify the wheel tax indefinitely.
Scholz also indicated the wheel tax will generate approximately $565,000 to bridge the gap of the current $600,000 shortfall.