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AGO 1972 No. 28 - December 06, 1972
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

MOTOR VEHICLES ‑- MOBILE HOME IDENTIFICATION FEE ‑- CREDITED TO MOTOR VEHICLE FUND

The entire $9.40 mobile home identification fee provided for by § 16, chapter 231 Laws of 1971, 1st Ex. Sess., is to be paid into the state motor vehicle fund.

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                                                                December 6, 1972

Honorable Jack G. Nelson
Director, Department of Motor Vehicles
Highways-Licenses Building
Olympia, Washington 98504

                                                                                                                 Cite as:  AGO 1972 No. 28

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged you have requested our opinion on a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            Is the entire $9.40 mobile home identification fee provided for by § 16, chapter 231, Laws of 1971, 1st Ex. Sess., to be paid into the state motor vehicle fund?

            We answer this question in the affirmative for the reasons set forth in our analysis.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Effective January 1, 1973, the state of Washington will no longer issue vehicle licenses for mobile homes.  Instead, acting through the department of motor vehicles, the state will issue mobile home identification tags evidencing either payment or provision for payment of such property taxes as have been levied against these structures.  See, §§ 8-23, chapter 231, Laws of 1971, 1st Ex. Sess.  As explained in AGO 1972 No. 13 [[to Gary M. Odegaard, State Senator on July 19, 1972]], copy enclosed, these property taxes will replace the former two percent excise tax on mobile homes.  Your question arises by reason of § 16 of this act, establishing the fee for these identification tags, which provides that:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "There shall be paid for the issuance of the mobile home identification tag a fee of nine dollars and forty cents which shall be collected by the director or his agents, including county auditors, one‑half of which shall be credited to the payment of property taxes due, if any, on such mobile home at that time."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            On the other hand, § 11 of the act, amending RCW 46.68.030, provides that:

            "All fees received by the director for vehicle licenses and mobile home identification tags under the provisions of chapter 46.16shall be forwarded to the state treasurer, accompanied by a proper identifying detailed report, and be by him deposited to the credit of the motor vehicle fund, and out of each vehicle basic license fee as provided for in RCW 46.16.060and each mobile home identification tag fee as provided for in section 16 of this 1971 amendatory act, the state treasurer shall deposit six dollars to the credit of the state patrol highway account of the motor vehicle fund.  A minimum of ten percent of the funds deposited in such account shall be appropriated and expended for the enforcement of RCW 46.44.100 relating to weight control."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            This latter statute clearly states that all fees received for mobile home identification tags are to be forwarded to the state treasurer who is to deposit them to the credit of the state motor vehicle fund.  Section 16, on the other hand, states that one‑half of these fees is to be "credited" to the payment of property taxes (if any) due on each mobile home at the time of payment of the identification tag fee.  The question to be determined thus becomes that of the meaning of the word "credited" as used in this section.  Does it mean that out of every nine dollar and forty cent mobile home identification tag fee paid to a county auditor or other collecting agent, half (or four dollars and seventy cents) is to be held out and  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] paid to the county in which the mobile home is located as a property tax collection?1/   Or does it merely mean that although the full amount of each fee is to be paid into the state motor vehicle fund, the owner of the mobile home, by his payment of this fee, is to receive a paper credit of four dollars and seventy cents against the total amount of his annual property tax bill for his mobile home?

            It is well settled that portions of a statute should be construed to give effect and be in harmony with the remaining language in the statute.  In re Beard's Estate, 60 Wn.2d 127, 372 P.2d 530 (1962).  Moreover, all statutes must be construed so that no word, clause or sentence is superfluous, void or insignificant.  Jordan v. O'Brien, 79 Wn.2d 406, 486 P.2d 290 (1971); State v. Zornes, 78 Wn.2d 9, 475 P.2d 109 (1970); and Des Moines v. Hemenway, 73 Wn.2d 130, 437 P.2d 171 (1968).

            Applying these rules, it will readily be seen that if one‑half of the mobile home identification tag fees collected by the director or his agents, including county auditors, were, by virtue of § 16 to be withheld from the state motor vehicle fund and treated as property tax payments instead, the state treasurer would be unable to perform the duties imposed upon him by § 11,supra; i.e., payment of all of these monies into the motor vehicle fund with a deposit of $6.00 thereof being made to the credit of the state patrol highway account of that fund.

           Therefore, in order to give full effect to both of these sections of the act and to harmonize their respective provisions, we conclude that the proper reading of § 16 is one which treats it as calling for a "paper credit" only.  In other words, the owner of the mobile home, upon payment of the $9.40 mobile home identification tag fee, is to receive a credit against his property taxes of $4.70, but the full amount of the fee is to be transmitted to the state for deposit to the credit of the motor vehicle fund.  For example, if the property taxes on a particular mobile home are one hundred dollars the owner, upon payment of his  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] identification tag fee, will receive a credit for one‑half of the amount of this fee against his tax bill and will then only have to pay ninety-five dollars and thirty cents to discharge the remander.

            We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

SLADE GORTON
Attorney General


JAMES R. SILVA
Assistant Attorney General

                                                         ***   FOOTNOTES   ***

1/See, chapter 84.56 RCW, which makes the counties the collectors of all property taxes not only for themselves but for the state and all other taxing districts as well.

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