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AGO 1954 No. 200 - February 09, 1954
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

MOTOR VEHICLES ‑- LICENSE FEES ‑- FORMULA FOR DETERMINATION OF GROSS WEIGHT FEES ON DIESEL POWERED FARM VEHICLES.

If there are vehicles which qualify as diesel powered farm trucks the formula for determining gross weight fees, is the gross weight fee commensurate with the weight of the vehicle increased by twenty-five percent, then divided in half.

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                                                                 February 9, 1954

Honorable Della Urquhart
Director of Licenses
Transportation Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                            Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 200

Dear Mrs. Urquhart:

            This is in answer to your letter of January 28, 1954, previously acknowledged, posing the following question:  If a diesel powered vehicle could qualify as a "farm truck" under RCW 46.16.090, what would be the formula for computing the gross weight fee for such a vehicle?

            If there are vehicles which qualify as diesel powered farm trucks, the formula for determining the gross weight fees would be the gross weight fee commensurate with the weight of the vehicle increased by twenty-five percent and divided in half.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Gross weight fees for trucks are fixed according to the weight class of the vehicle by RCW 46.16.070.  In the case of motor trucks or truck-tractors propelled by diesel oil or other non-taxable fuels, the fee set forth in RCW 46.16.070 is increased by twenty-five percent.  See RCW 46.16.074.  In the case of any motor truck of less than 20,000 pounds which is owned and operated by farmers, the gross weight fees provided in RCW 46.16.070 are reduced by fifty percent, provided certain conditions exist.  RCW 46.16.090.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            The purpose of the increase of gross weight fees in the case of diesel burning trucks is to compensate, in part, for the loss of tax revenue incurred by the state by reason of the fact that diesel oil is not subject to the tax collected upon retail sales of gasoline.  In such cases the fee schedule established by RCW 46.16.070 is increased in every instance by twenty-five percent.  RCW 46.16.074.  The latter statute does not set up a distinct and separate fee, but is merely authority to increase theamount of the only fee established by law.

            Therefore, if a vehicle is qualified for the fifty percent fee under RCW 46.16.090, but is also diesel burning, the base fee is the schedule set forth in RCW 46.16.070 increased by twenty-five percent.  The schedule provided in RCW 46.16.070 is expressly mentioned in RCW 46.16.090, but the amounts specified are subject to variation on the basis of the fuel used.  This is a purely mathematical adjustment which does not change the fact that it is still the "schedule provided in RCW 46.16.070" within the meaning of RCW 46.16.090.

            In our opinion, the proper formula for determining gross weight fees to be assessed against "diesel powered farm trucks" (if there are such vehicles) is as follows:

            Select the fee set forth in RCW 46.16.070 for trucks of the proper weight, increase such fee by twenty-five percent and divide by one‑half.

            Note, however, that the formula would not apply to any vehicle exceeding 20,000 pounds gross weight.  RCW 46.16.090.

Very truly yours,

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General

RALPH M. DAVIS
Assistant Attorney General

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