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News and Events: California Revises Tag System

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

News and Events: California Revises Tag System

M.F. Studebaker
Antique Automobile
March-April 1972


Beginning February 8, 1972, California will bring all automobiles, however old, under what is essentially the same system of registration. The bill, AB 1461, was signed by Governor Ronald Reagan in the closing days of the 1971 legislative session.

The new law, in effect, wipes out the license tag status of the current Horseless Carriage plate and makes it largely an identification symbol. Because it previously was a onetime, permanent permit, various county tax agencies in California had issued stiff tax liens on cars appearing for tours and shows. Their position was that these cars actually were not taxed by the state, at least in the usual sense, hence were subject to county control. Taxed at personal property rates, some owners were presented bills of several hundred dollars.

Hereafter, an annual registration fee of $11 will be collected, plus $2 "in lieu" tax which is intended to meet any other as valorem charge.

The bill continues the issuance of the special antique plates at a onetime charge of $25. Unfortunately, many owners turned in their plates during the current flap and will be obliged to repurchase them if wanted for the special identification purpose.

There are several grey areas in this as in most new laws. Presumably they will be clarified in the administrative procedures that are adopted. Too, there may be repercussions in the insurance field inasmuch as the new controls apparently do not limit the use of such vehicles, a provision which appears in most existing policies.

Louis F. Giacometti of Santa Rosa, California, headed an eleven-man committee from Horseless Carriage Club which worked with legislative officers in drafting the new tax measure.

M.F. Studebaker

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