Municipal Vehicle Registration Fee (Wheel Tax)

Effective March 1, 2019 a $15 municipal vehicle registration fee is added as part of the Wisconsin Department of Transportion vehicle renewal process.  Questions about billing errors due to incorrect vehicle location on file, or similar questions, should be directed to the DMV.

The DMV contact information is:
• Email: vehiclequestions@dot.wi.gov
• Telephone: (608) 264-7447
• Mail: PO Box 8070, Madison, WI 53708-8070

Additional WisDOT information is available at https://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/dmv/vehicles/title-plates/wheeltax.aspx

The municipal fee is dedicated to repairs to municpal roads.  Each year the City Council is to review the fee and is to consider, by vote of the City Council, whether or not the fees is to continued.

Frequently Asked Questions

• Printable PDF format of these Frequently Asked Questions - HERE

What is the policy for exemptions, refunds and proration?
There are no provisions for exemptions to wheel tax, other than those stated above.  A wheel tax is never prorated.  The full fee is required whenever it is collected.  Refund requests for the wheel tax fee paid in error may be directed to the WisDOT Research and Information Unit.  Refunds may be issued for the current registration period only.  
•  Email:  vehiclequestions@dot.wi.gov
• Telephone:  (608) 264-7447
•  Mail:  PO Box 8070, Madison, WI 53708-8070

 

What vehicles are subject to a wheel tax?

An automobile or a motor truck registered under 8,000 lbs. gross weight and customarily kept in the municipality or county that enacted the tax. This includes:

  • Automobiles, vans and Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) that qualify as a passenger vehicle
  • Motor trucks and dual-purpose motor homes (trucks that can be equipped with a slide-in camper unit) registered at a gross weight of 8,000 lbs. or less.

Vehicles with the following license plate types are subject to a wheel tax, except as noted.

Standard Plate Types: AUT

AUT    Automobile and passenger vehicles:  Issued for automobiles and for vans and SUVs that qualify as a passenger vehicle including those operated for hire.  Driver Ed vehicles are exempt from wheel tax and are not included in WisDOT registration reports of vehicles subject to a wheel tax.

LTK    Light truck:  Issued for motor trucks operated up to 8,000 lbs. gross weight including vehicles operated for hire.  Dual-purpose farm trucks are exempt from wheel tax.

Special Plate Types - The special plates listed are available for autos and light trucks and subject to wheel tax. They are also available for dual-purpose farm trucks, farm trucks and motor homes that are exempt from any wheel tax.

AMA    Amateur Radio
BSA    Boy Scout Alumni
CCC    Cure Childhood Cancer
CHW   Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
CLS    Collector Special (Not to be confused with Collector plates, which are non-expiring and exempt from wheel tax.)
CLW   Choose Life Wisconsin, Inc.
CVG   Civilian Authorized Groups:  Includes Civil Air Patrol, EMTs and Rescue Squad members.
DIS    Disabled Parking
DUK   Ducks Unlimited
ELK    Rocky Mountain Elk
EMT    Emergency Medical Technician
END    Endangered Resources (wolf design)
ENN    Endangered Resources (eagle or badger designs)
FFO    Firefighter (red design)
FRF    Firefighter (white design)
GLF    Golf Wisconsin
GST   Gold Star Family
HAR   Harley-Davidson/Share the road
HEG   Higher Education Group (University of Wisconsin plates)
HEM   Higher Education Group (University of Wisconsin Madison)
IGT    In God We Trust
KID    Celebrate Children
LCF    Lions Foundation
LEM    Law Enforcement Memorial
LIF     Donate Life Wisconsin
MBK   Milwaukee Bucks
MBO   Milwaukee Brewers (ball and glove design)
MBN   Milwaukee Brewers (‘M’ design)
MGP   Multi-Group:  Lao Veteran and Freemason
MLG   Military Authorized Special Group
NUR   Nurses Change Lives
MRQ   Marquette University
PAK    Green Bay Packers
SPT    Wisconsin Salutes Veterans
TRT    Trout Unlimited
VET    Disabled Veteran parking
WHF   Women’s Health Foundation
WNG  Wisconsin National Guard
WTU   Whitetails Unlimited
XPW    Ex-Prisoner of War:  No registration fee or wheel tax is charged for one vehicle registered by an applicant.  Subsequent vehicles are subject to registration fees including any wheel tax.  (WisDOT registration records include all vehicles of this type registered at 8,000 pounds or less, including those that are exempt from a wheel tax.)
    For more information about license plate types, please visit the Wisconsin Plate Guide.

 

What vehicles are exempt from this fee?

Vehicles exempt from wheel tax are:

  • Buses, motorcycles, mopeds, motor homes, low-speed vehicles and trailers
  • Trucks registered at more than 8,000 pounds or registered as Farm or Dual Purpose Farm
  • Vehicles registered as Antique, Collector, Driver education, Historic military vehicle, Hobbyist, Human service vehicle, Low-speed vehicle, Medal of honor, Municipal, State-owned, Special X and one vehicle with Ex-prisoner of war registration issued to any qualified individual
  • Any vehicle with registration issued by a Wisconsin Indian tribe or band
  • Vehicles displaying Dealer, Distributor, Finance company or Manufacturer plates

What determines whether a vehicle is customarily kept in a municipality or county?

Applications for original title and registration request the county and city, village or township where a vehicle is "customarily kept” or domiciled. This information also prints on the registration renewal notice. Renewal notices instruct the customer to change their address, or where the vehicle is customarily kept, if incorrectly shown on the notice.

In the absence of an indicated municipality or county of domicile, the owner or lessee's post office address may be used to determine municipality or county of domicile, per administrative rule Trans 126.01(c). This can result in incorrect vehicle location information for registrants who receive their mail from a neighboring community if they do not specify the correct location on their vehicle registration application. Beginning in October 2017, WisDOT uses a geographic information system (GIS) to determine vehicle location based on the street address when the location is not provided by the registrant.

WisDOT also implemented an online application that allows individuals (not businesses) to view and correct the location for their vehicles. See Vehicle kept in information for more information. Per s. 341.60, Wis. Stats., any person who gives a false address or location where a vehicle is customarily kept in an application for registration may be fined not more than $200 or imprisoned not more than 6 months or both.

Are estimates of the number of vehicles subject to a wheel tax within a county or municipality available?

Yes. Current vehicle data is available at the end of each fiscal and calendar year. The vehicles eligible for wheel tax report is available on the WisDOT website at Lists of vehicle information.

 

When is the fee charged?

WisDOT collects the fee at the time of first registration and at the time of each subsequent registration renewal. WisDOT sends vehicle registration renewal notices at least 30 days before their plates expire. The renewal notice will show the total fee due including the wheel tax. WisDOT adds a message to renewal notices when a new wheel tax is instituted to inform affected customers of the fee change.

WisDOT collects the fee based on the date of operation for new registrations and registration renewals. The effective day is always the first day of a month. For example, if the effective date of a new wheel tax is April 1, the fee is due when:

  • A newly acquired vehicle being registered is first operated on or after April 1. For dealer sales, the date of delivery is on or after April 1.
  • A vehicle has been out of operation at least one full year from the last registration expiration date and is first operated on or after April 1.
  • A vehicle with registration expiring on or after March 31. Vehicles with a March 31 are included because the beginning of the next registration period for the vehicle is on the effective date, April 1. Passenger vehicles with automobile registration can expire on any day of the month. Vehicles with a registration expiration date of March 30 would not pay the wheel tax until the plates expire in the year following the implementation of the new wheel tax.

 

What are the administrative costs associated with a wheel tax?

Beginning July 1, 2016, WisDOT charges a fee per vehicle application of 17 cents. The administrative fee is the same for all municipalities regardless of the amount of fee imposed by the municipality or the number of vehicles for which the fee is collected.

 

Can the revenues received from wheel tax payments be used for any purpose?

Municipalities must use the moneys from wheel tax payments for transportation related purposes only (s. 341.35(6r), Wis. Stats.). "Highway" is defined by state law to mean “all public ways and thoroughfares and bridges on the same.” Courts have interpreted "highways" to include trails because they are "public ways and thoroughfares and bridges on the same." "Sidewalk" means that “portion of a highway between the curb lines, or the lateral lines of a roadway, and the adjacent property lines, constructed for use of pedestrians.”

 

What registration fee is collected for vehicles subject to wheel tax?

Not including any wheel tax, the annual registration fees collected are:

  • Automobiles and vans/SUVs that qualify as a passenger vehicle: $75
  • Motor trucks and dual purpose motor trucks up to 4,500 lbs. gross weight: $75
  • Motor trucks and dual purpose motor trucks up to 6,000 lbs. gross weight: $84
  • Motor trucks and dual purpose motor trucks up to 8,000 lbs. gross weight: $106
  • Hybrid automobiles, motor trucks and dual purpose motor trucks 8,000 lbs. gross weight: $75
  • Electric automobiles, motor trucks and dual purpose motor trucks 8,000 lbs. gross weight: $100

In addition to the registration fee, there is:

  • An issuance fee of $15 for some special plates or a $15 annual fee if the plates are personalized.
  • An annual tax-deductible donation of $20 or $25 is collected for vehicles registered with many special plates.
  • A $10 late fee is charged if registration fee is paid after the date of expiration.
  • A $100 surcharge is charged for electric vehicles..