Starting in early 2020, Missouri temporary license plates will have a new look designed to prevent forged versions costing the state millions.
The new temporary license plate is designed to deter car owners from making fake tags. The new tags will have several updated security features.
There is an anti-copying feature in which the word “VOID” will appear if a person tries to reproduce an existing license. But the main new feature will be a reflective, holographic image that can be seen day and night. These new tags are expected to cost the same to produce as the current paper ones.
The problem of fake temporary plates is not new for the state. The Missouri Department of Revenue estimated that there are 32,000 license plate scofflaws which end up costing the state $26 million in unpaid sales tax revenue.
These fake temporary license plates became a focus for the City of St. Louis where the police issued over 13,000 tickets for operating a vehicle without a proper license plate, up almost 3,000 from 2017.
Another attempt to fix the problem hasn’t quite panned out the way it was supposed to.
State lawmakers approved a state law in 2018 that required new car owners to turn in the temporary tags to a state license office when they show up to get their permanent plates and pay sales tax on their newly purchased vehicle. The idea was to keep temporary tags from being transferred illegal to another car. Temporary tags are good for only 30 days.
But the problem preventing the legislation from working to solve the problem is that the law neither requires nor allows the department to refuse to issue a plate if a temporary tag isn’t turned in to the state.
Even with both increased enforcement on the streets and the new law, the problem has not gone away. Some say the cost to renew plates is to blame, along with costs and time of safety and emission tests, bringing in proof of insurance and a paid personal property tax receipt, in addition to other fees. All this can make getting your license plates too costly and too much of a hassle.
One suggestion for the state to get the revenue is to have new vehicle owners pay their 4.225% sales tax at the dealership, rather than having them pay the tax to the state when they get their license plates.
Then there is the recent 2015 municipal court reform which was designed to relieve the burden on the poor. These new laws capped fines for traffic offenses at $300 and extra fines for failing to appear in court could not be added. Some speculate that this has given some people incentive to ignore tickets for not having the proper plates and never show up to court.
In any case, the problem will continue to exist unless there is going to be more changes.
With $26 million at stake, Missouri takes another swing at curbing license plate scofflaws
By Kurt Erickson St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Nov 25, 2019
JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri officials unveiled a new temporary license plate this month designed to deter people from making fraudulent tags, but it’s not clear how much it might stop drivers from using them long after they expire.
The use of expired temporary tags has been a vexing issue in the St. Louis region for years. The department says an estimated 32,000 license plate scofflaws are costing the state as much as $26 million in unpaid sales tax revenue, said Revenue department spokeswoman Anne Marie Moy.
When Jimmie Edwards became public safety director for St. Louis in late 2017, he told city police officers to keep a close eye out for cars with expired temporary tags and license plates, and to cite the drivers.
St. Louis police last year issued more than 13,000 tickets in the city for operating without a proper vehicle license. That’s nearly 3,000 more than in 2017.
State lawmakers also have tried to address the problem, approving a state law in 2018 requiring people to turn in the temporary tags to a state license office when they show up to get their permanent plates and pay sales tax on their newly purchased vehicle.
That measure aims to keep temporary tags — which are valid for just 30 days — from showing up illegally on another vehicle.
However, the law neither requires nor allows the department to refuse to issue a plate if a temporary tag isn’t turned in, Moy said.
Despite the new law and stepped-up enforcement, the problem persists. One factor may be the cost of renewing license plates in Missouri. Safety and emissions tests often are required, as are proof of insurance and a paid personal property tax receipt. On top of that are registration and processing fees.
When someone buys a car in Missouri, they don’t pay the 4.225% sales tax at the dealership. Rather, people pay the tax to the state when they get their license plates.
Another reason for the uptick may be tied to the Legislature’s 2015 overhaul of municipal court practices, which critics said preyed on the poor.
A provision in that law says people can be fined no more than $300 for traffic offenses and cities can’t add an extra “failure to appear” charge because an offender misses a court date.
That means more people might ignore tickets because there are no consequences for failing to show up for their court date.
Moy said some of the suggested changes that could reduce the number of people who don’t pay sales taxes are out of the department’s hands.
“Collecting tax at dealerships would likely require either a legislative change or that the dealers issue title to purchasers themselves,” Moy said.
Moy did not address the issue of cost to alter the system so that sales taxes are paid at the time of purchase, but previous estimates have put it at $70 million.
In the first six months of 2019, nearly 350,000 temporary registration permits were issued for cars, trucks, trailers and motorcycles. The state currently has 4.9 million licensed vehicles, according to a department tally.
The department projects that dealers and license offices will have the new permits in stock no later than February.