NH Watchdog - Vanity Plate Fee Hike Cuts Sales


Higher Vanity Plate Fees bring small drop in Sales

(CONCORD)  A 60% increase in the fee charged for vanity license plates has resulted in a 5% drop in sales, according to the latest study from the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy.  Since the Legislatire increased the annual surcharge for customized license plates from $25 to $40 as part of the FY09-10 budget, there are nearly 10,000 fewer vehicles on New Hampshire roads with Vanity Plates.

Josiah Bartlett Center Lead Investigator Grant Bosse, who authored the study, tracked the number of vanity and conservation plates in circulation each month in the year before and after the fee increase went into effect.  State revenues from vanity plate sales rose 52% over the previous year.

"New Hampshire drivers love their vanity plates.  Most love them enough to pay the higher fee," Bosse says.  "The drop in sales that we found can't be blamed on a slow economy, since sales of Conservation Plates remained steady over the past year."

The vanity plate fee increase was one of 41 tax and fee increases included in the FY09-10 budget.  The study concludes that raising fees on voluntary transactions like vanity plates does less economic harm than taxing other government services.

The report concludes, "Customizing a license plate is not an essential state service, and paying this fee is entirely voluntary.  The Legislature should consider higher license plates fees before raising taxes and fees on essential economic activities." Read the full report at NewHampshireWatchdog.org