Reference Number: 
CTAS-1634

Authority.  T.C.A. § 5-8-102.

Description. Counties may levy a privilege tax on motor vehicles, commonly called a wheel tax.  The tax may be levied by one of the following methods: (1) by passage of a resolution by a two-thirds vote of the county legislative body at two consecutive regular county legislative body meetings; (2) by passage of a resolution by the county legislative body by a regular majority with approval and referendum provided for in the resolution; and (3) by private act. Notwithstanding a population classification exception, the two-thirds majority resolution method is subject to a referendum if a petition signed by a number of registered voters equal to 10 percent of the number of voters in the last gubernatorial election is filed with the county election commission within 30 days of passage. T.C.A. § 5-8-102(b)(1).

Distribution.  Distribution of these tax revenues may be for any county purpose specified in the private act or resolution levying the tax.

As of the date of this publication, 59 counties impose the county motor vehicle tax with rates ranging from $10.00 to $110.00, as shown in County Motor Vehicle Tax Rates FY 2017. Thirty-six of these counties have rates of $40.00 or greater.

Motor Vehicle Registrations 2016 provides the number of motor vehicle registrations in each county and may be used to estimate potential revenues generated from the imposition or increase in the motor vehicle registration tax. These data include, however, vehicles exempt by statute from taxation and should be adjusted accordingly.