Audit Reveals State Under-Collecting For Vanity Plates

By Rob McAllister

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The state charges extra for special license plates, but is the money ending up where it should? The problem came to light after an Associated Press investigation showed a state audit has unearthed a slew of problems with the plates.

California loves its cars and having a specialized plate with things like whales or palm trees only helps fuel that desire. You can get those plates for an extra fee which goes to helping veterans, firefighters and other state programs. Or does it?

A new audit reveals that the DMV failed to collect $22 million from the license plate program. They were part undercharging or not collecting at all.

The agency explains the financial pothole in a statement that reads:

“DMV has generally not continued collecting fees from people who kept a personalized plate after they no longer have it on a car.”

While there may be problems, the Department of Veterans Affairs appears to be satisfied with the money they get from the license plate program.

“We’ve been getting about $750,000 to our department that goes out to directly help the vets,” said Department of Veterans Affairs spokesperson JP Trembly.

But Trembly says the sale of these plates continues to increase, which means that if the DMV does not straighten out its accounting issues, state programs could lose even more money.

The DMV says a review of the system could be quite costly, as an entire program upgrade could be needed.

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