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Missouri cracks down on expired temp tags

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The state of Missouri is hoping to reduce the number of expired temporary license tags with a new state law.

It seems to be a problem in all parts of the state: expired or fake temporary license tags. Some cities are taking unique approaches to deal with the issue. The focus of the new law is to crack down on the issue, but it will be years before it’s implemented.

It’s not just a St. Louis or Kansas City problem; it’s the entire state.

“I think we all temp tags have, needless to say, been forged, been used, been doctored, been everything that possibly could happen,” Gov. Mike Parson said Thursday.

Temporary tags are given to drivers when they purchase a vehicle, but the consumer must make a trip to the DMV office within 30 days to pay the sales tax.

“This should end about 90% of the temp tag abuse that we are seeing across the state,” Rep. Michael O’Donnell, R-St. Louis County, said. “It’s really become a problem.”

The governor put pen to paper Thursday, signing off on bipartisan legislation expected to crack down on expired temp tags by requiring car dealers to collect sales tax at the time a vehicle is purchased. Customers will either have to pay a lump sum or the tax can be rolled into monthly payments.

Many states, like Illinois, already combine the two payments.

“The one thing, at the dealership, you can buy a car, they can wrap that up in the financing or whatever it might be, but at least you know when you’re there, you’re going to be legal,” Parson said.

The new law, which also prohibits drivers from having their phone in their hand to text, call, scroll on social media or watch videos while behind the wheel, is estimated to eliminate roughly 90% of temp tag abuse.

The large number of illegal tags has some cities taking matters into their own hands. Like in St. Charles, where the mayor is asking citizens to take pictures of expired tags and send them into the city, so they can pursue legal action.

In cities like Joplin and Springfield, police say they don’t have the manpower to pull people over for illegal tags.

“I think what happens a lot of times is people buy cars, they probably overextended a little bit and then all of a sudden, you can’t pay the taxes when you go get the license and then really good people get in trouble over it,” Parson said.

Even though the law took effect earlier this week, the software that will allow dealers to connect with the Department of Revenue won’t be online until 2025. Until then, if you buy a car, you’ll have to go to a DMV office to pay the sales tax. Dealers have been paying an extra administrative fee to pay for the new computer.

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