Do you qualify for a rebate on the car tab fees you paid in 2020? Find out!

Income-qualified households may be eligible for a rebate on the Vehicle License Fees (VLF) they paid in 2020 for car tabs that expire in 2021.  

See if your household is eligible for a rebate and apply before the rebate program ends on June 30, 2021. We can only process rebates from car tabs that expire in 2021, and we’re unable to process rebates from any other year.  

Every year, car owners in Washington State must renew their car tabs and pay a VLF. If you live in Seattle, part of your fees go to the Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD) and fund a broad range of projects in Seattle. 

What’s a Transportation Benefit District? Washington State code allows cities to create transportation benefit districts for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, improving, providing, and funding transportation improvements. This tool is available because inflation has eroded the local share of gas tax and past ballot initiatives have eliminated other traditional sources of funding. 

Funds collected through the STBD pay for maintenance and preservation, as well as safety and enhancements to our transportation system. They also fund transit service and programs for low-income residents, youth, and our aging population.

One of these programs is our Youth Transportation Ambassador Program that teaches youth about public transit options and mobilizes them to be transportation ambassadors in their communities. Watch the video below to learn more about how this program has ripple effects in the community.

Youth Ambassador Program Partners We.APP travel to different restaurants across Seattle to show why having accessible and affordable transit helps youth experience new cultures and foods, further enriching their education and development as community transit ambassadors.

“As a Youth Ambassador, I ride the bus from my home to school every day. Since coming to the Youth Ambassador program, I have been able to teach my family what I know, and now my dad and whole family rides the bus with me too. By riding transit, I get to learn and experience other cultures, while having the tools to take care of myself while riding transportation.”

-Kaya 6th Grade Youth Ambassador 

Additionally, thanks to the STBD funding, 15,000 Seattle Public School students were provided free, fully-subsidized ORCA Cards during the 2019-2020 school year. You can learn more about how funds were spent on transit by reading our STBD Year 5 Annual Report

Between 2015 and 2020, Seattle residents paid $80 per vehicle each year to the STBD. Of this funding, $60 went to transit and $20 toward maintenance and safety.  

During this time, income-qualified vehicle owners with a car registered in Seattle could receive a rebate through the $20 Vehicle License Fee Rebate (VLFR) program on the portion going to transit. We worked with our partners at the Seattle Human Services Department to manage rebate applications from income-eligible individuals.  

Seattle voters approved a new measure in November 2020, which renewed transit funding for six more years. However, the funding mechanism is structured differently.  

The new measure no longer includes the $60 VLF for transit, but rather a 0.15% sales tax. The sales tax is the equivalent of 15 cents on a $100 purchase. Since this new measure didn’t include a VLF for transit, we no longer offer rebates for VLF paid in 2021 and beyond.  

The new measure has 5 goals and continues to prioritize access: 
 

  • Provide safe and efficient transit for all Seattleites, particularly our essential workers fighting against this global pandemic
  • Preserve a robust, connected transit system in Seattle that centers equity by ensuring access no matter the time of day or where you live
  • Make transit investments in underserved areas and address acute mobility needs in areas like West Seattle
  • Invest in ORCA Opportunity for students and Low Income Access programs
  • Ensure continuity of critical transit services and transportation investments despite financial restrictions caused by I-976 and COVID-19

There’s still time to apply for a Vehicle License Fee Rebate for car tabs that expire in 2021. The last day to apply is June 30, 2021

We can only process rebates from car tabs that expire in 2021, and we’re unable to process rebates from any other year. See if you qualify for a rebate and learn how to apply on our website.