Sales taxes will

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 21, 2003

hit cars

By Stephen Stetson The Messenger

Of the $1.2 billion in tax increases proposed by Gov. Bob Riley Monday night, a sizable portion of the funds will come from higher sales tax on the purchase of automobiles.

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The Legislature is currently considering 10 revenue bills designed to raise taxes and 13 "accountability" bills. But for those in the business of selling cars, one main portion of the package stands out.

Bill Jackson, owner of Bill Jackson Chevrolet-Oldsmobile-Cadillac, is on the state board of the automobile dealers association and said he and the group will be watching Riley's proposal very carefully as it moves through the House and Senate.

Still, he supports the plan's tax increase components, even on the products he sells.

"We all know we've got to have some taxes," he said. "Riley's got enough guts to do what's got to be done."

Jackson said the tax increase on automobile sales, which is expected to raise over $100 million, has been a recent topic of discussion among the members of the state association.

"The state tax is 2 and will go to 2.5, but we don't have a problem with it," he said. "Everybody has to do their share."

It's also important to think of Riley's package as more than just a tax hike, Jackson said.

"Let's not look at it just as a tax increase. There are accountability bills that are linked as well," he said.

The collection of 23 bills - 10 revenue bills and 13 accountability bills - will go before the voters of Alabama after it emerges from the Legislature. The package must be voted up or down all together, with any one unpopular portion of the plan threatening to derail the entire package.

In addition to making the purchase of a car or truck a bit more expensive, the increase would also apply to boats, mobile homes, recreational vehicles and aircraft.

Eleice Floyd owns Troy Nissan and she said she is "totally against" the tax increase.

"Of course, I'm against it," she said. "Our sales have been generally good and we had a wonderful month in April, but I think it would hurt sales a little bit."

Even if the higher taxes won't hurt sales, Floyd said she'd rather see greater accountability for existing revenue than imposing new taxes on auto buyers. She said there are likely other places to get funds.

Jim Shirley, of Floyd-Shirley Ford-Mercury in Brundidge, said he hadn't scrutinized the details of Riley's plan but intends to follow it closely and monitor potential consequences for the automobile market.

"I haven't looked at his plan real closely, but I know there's lot of information on the Web and I'm going to take a good look at it," he said.