Wheel Tax

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Chippewa County Wheel Tax to Commence 1/1/2015

Now that the County Board has approved the County Vehicle Registration Fee (Wheel Tax) what does this mean? How will it work?

 1.       What is the County Vehicle Registration Fee?

It is a $10 fee that is added to the normal DMV vehicle registration fees.  This fee is specifically designated to refund the depleted Chippewa County Highway Department Winter Maintenance Fund and to provide additional funding to maintain county highways during the winter season.

2.       When will the fee be implemented?

The new ordinance will take effect on January 1, 2015 and collection for vehicles that are subject to the fee will begin on these dates:

  • Renewal of current registrations expiring January 1, 2015, or later.
  • Issuance of new registrations with a date of operation or dealer delivery date on January 2, 2015, or later.

 3.       How long will the fee be collected?

The registration fee will sunset at midnight on January 1, 2020 after the Chippewa County Highway Department Winter Maintenance Fund has been restored.

4.       How is the fee collected?

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 $10.00 wheel tax for each vehicle that is subject to the fee. 

 5.       What does it cost to implement the fee?

Currently, WisDOT charges a fee per vehicle application of 10 cents.  This 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. The county staff time to administer the transfer of revenue from the DMV to Chippewa County is minimal. 

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

Counties and municipalities must use the moneys from wheel tax payments for transportation related purposes only (section 341.35(6r), Wisconsin Statutes).  "Highway" is defined by Wisconsin Statutes to mean “all public ways and thoroughfares and bridges on the same.”  The new Chippewa County ordinance (Chapter 58, Article III) adopted by the County Board requires it to be used for Winter Maintenance expenses.  The Finance Division has established a separate account under Highway Winter Maintenance for tracking these fees.  The fees will only be used for Winter Maintenance expenses on the County Trunk Highway System—not local (city, town or village) roads or State Highways.    

 7.       What vehicles are subject to the 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 (SUV) 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.

                Read more details on vehicles subject to the wheel tax.

8.        What vehicles are exempt from this fee?

  • 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 or 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

9.        What about vehicles with Collector plates?

  • “Collector” plates, issued to vehicles more than 20 years old, are non-expiring and exempt from wheel tax.
  • “Collector special” plates are issued for any auto or light truck owned by someone who has “Collector” plates and are subject to wheel tax

 10.     What is the policy for refunds and proration?

A wheel tax is never prorated.  The full fee is required whenever it is collected.  Refund requests of the wheel tax fee paid in error may be directed to the WisDOT Research and Information Unit:

Email: VehicleQuestions@dot.wi.gov
Telephone: (608) 266-1466
Mail: PO Box 8070, Madison, WI 53708-8070

 11.     Where can I get more information on the wheel tax and impact on my vehicle registration? 

Additional information is available from the Wisconsin DMV.

To read more on why the County imposed the vehicle registration fee refer to the minutes from the September 9, 2014 County Board meeting.

For additional questions regarding the local fee, please contact the Chippewa County Finance Office at 715-726-7946.