Vancouver police cracking down on residents with out-of-state plates

Clyde Hughes bought his car in Portland, but lives in Washington. He had to pay $1,000 to register it in Washington, get his plates and tabs and pay the sales tax. (KATU Photo)

Not everyone living in Vancouver has a car registered in Washington.

Some people have legitimate reasons, others are just trying to beat the system.

“It's a lot of money. I mean, if you're down there, you don't pay sales tax so you can save a lot of money,” said Clyde Hughes.

Hughes lives in Washington, but he recently bought a car in Portland.

“Mine was $1,000 today to register it here to get my plates and tabs and my sales tax here,” he said.

According to the city, about one in 10 residents own cars registered in another state. That means Vancouver loses about $300,000 a year on road improvements.

That’s why the Vancouver Police Department is launching Live in State, Get Our Plates program. Volunteers sweep through residential neighborhoods to find vehicles that have exceeded the 30-day requirement new residents have to register their car.

“It can be an economic reason, but it could also be a lack of information, so we’re here to provide that information that they may not know otherwise when they move to our areas,” said Kim Kapp, a spokesperson for the Vancouver Police Department.

Like Portland, Vancouver requires an emissions fee.

When you register a sedan, it's about $135 and then $83 a year to renew.

It's more expensive to register a truck ($155.25), and to renew ($103.75/year).

That’s including the $20 Transportation Improvement Program fee, which will increase to $40 starting in December.

You don't have to pay the extra sales tax if you've owned your car for more than three months.

In Portland, the emissions fee is more expensive, and so is the registration.

At minimum, you pay about $200 for any vehicle.

You can renew it every two years for $86 or $172 for every four years.

That’s not including the $19 fee Multnomah County residents pay in their registration that helps fund the Sellwood Bridge replacement.

In the end, you'll pay a little more to renew your vehicle in Vancouver, but it’s much more affordable than paying the fine.

You can face up to a $1,529 fine if you registered your car in another state to avoid taxes, not to mention up to a year in jail.

“If you live here you got to pay it,” said Hughes. “If not, I’m paying it and someone else ain't, then I’m paying for someone else.”

If you think someone in your neighborhood has not registered their car in Washington, you can report them anonymously online.

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