A move is underway to end a big tax break that was once aimed at vehicles used by farmers. The license plates for a pickup truck in Iowa still cost only $65, while other owners of similar sized vehicles pay about $400. John Putney, a Republican State Senator from Gladbrook, says when it was mostly farmers driving pickups, the very low tax rate made sense.
But as pickup trucks have become increasingly popular with nonfarmers, he says it’s appropriate to review the registration fees. Des Moines Democrat Matt McCoy says raising fees for pickups is a matter of fairness. He points out the driver of an SUV has paid four-hundred dollars a year for his license plates, while another driver in "a $50,000 pickup" parked in the driveway next door pays just $65.
The Senate Transportation Committee voted to end the tax differential, but the Iowa Farm Bureau opposes ending it, and the bill’s future is uncertain. Mark Zieman, a Republican Senator from Postville, says the change would hurt farmers, and businesses.
He says they’re trying to address "the urban cowboys that are driving the big pickups," but says the state still has a number of people who drive trucks in their day’s work. There are nearly 700-thousand pickups registered in Iowa and 80-thousand reportedly are owned by farmers. The bill would grandfather in pickups that are on the road today, and begin the higher license fees on new trucks in 2009.