Buying a car could soon cost you hundreds more in fees

Buying a car could soon cost you hundreds more in fees

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Cate Wilson and her husband are lucky.

"I feel pretty lucky, yeah, that I just beat it by a hair," she said.

She beat paying more to move here from Florida. Wednesday afternoon, she and her husband paid the $150 vehicle property tax on their car. But if they'd waited for just a couple more days to do it, it would have cost them another $250 on top of that, a total of more than $400.

"Yeah, that's substantially more than I would have liked to have paid," she said.

The reason is a new law the raises the state's gas tax. That law includes a provision that'll help fund roads by charging people like Wilson $250 to register an out-of-state vehicle.

That provision of the law and others take effect this Saturday, July 1.

"Customers don't really have an idea that this is going to happen," said Luke Godwin, the owner of Godwin Motors on West Beltline Boulevard.

Godwin is getting ready for another provision of that law that'll also take effect this Saturday.

The sales tax on the purchase of a vehicle is going away. Instead, buyers will have to pay a fee (known as an Infrastructure Maintenance Fee) that's 5 percent of the purchase price, but that fee cannot exceed $500.

"I just think it affects the people who can least afford it, and I really believe that's the problem," said Godwin, who added, because of the cap, that the fee would be the same for both a $11,000 Chevrolet Impala and a $60,000 Lexus.

Godwin says it'll affect about 90 percent of his customers since most of his cars are priced above $10,000.

It'll also affect dealers like Godwin themselves. Because most of his customers choose to finance their purchased cars, Godwin will have to pay for their higher fees out-of-pocket up front.

"Unfortunately, it's going to require us to borrow a little more money," he said.

As for Wilson, she understands the reason behind those higher fees.

"The roads here need some work," she said. "I'm from Florida, where everything's flat and a pothole's really easy to fix. But here, there are cracks everywhere, it's hilly, and there are potholes just about everywhere you go."

She just hopes those news taxes and fees help.

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