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Is Your ZIP Code Costing You Money?

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

The California Board of Equalization says the state Department of Motor Vehicles is charging some people too much to register their vehicles.

The BOE has an online tool available for the DMV or anyone to look up the tax of a car or truck based on the address of the owner instead of the owner's ZIP code.

BOE member George Runner says two people in the same ZIP code can have different tax rates. Last year, the board created a Web page that maps everyone by their tax rate, but Runner says the DMV won't use the website.

"The excuses that we're hearing are the people at the counter don't have the right access to a computer or it takes more time to look up and we just think that those are not good reasons."

Runner says people can fill out a form at the DMV if they realize they've paid too much. But, he says they shouldn't have to.

"It shouldn't be the taxpayers job to go ahead and figure out how to get a refund when they've been over-charged when indeed there's a process, there's an easy way for the DMV to actually look up and see what the exact right amount is."

Runner recently sent a letter to the DMV asking the agency to use the BOE website.

The DMV released a statement that says it "collects tax based on instructions from the Board of  Equalization." It also released a copy of a letter to the BOE that says the DMV "will immediately begin exploring options for ensuring the correct assessment in those narrow circumstances where a split zip code may apply."

Unlike most transactions, the tax rate for a vehicle sale is based on the address of the registered owner, not where the sale takes place.

0910 Boe Map Tool

Sales Tax 2014 - BOE

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