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Curious about how your vehicle registration fees are calculated?

Part of your registration fees are from the specific ownership tax (SOT). SOT is a personal property tax and is assessed for the time in which the driver owns the vehicle. This tax went into effect in 1937 and is factored into the annual registration for every motor vehicle and trailer. Most of the tax is paid directly to counties and distributed to taxing jurisdictions within the county. Amounts of money collected from the specific ownership tax are used to fund local governments, including school districts.

The SOT is based on the year of manufacture of the vehicle and the original taxable value which is determined when the vehicle is new and does not change throughout the life of the vehicle.

Payment of this tax is required, even if the vehicle is not on the road. Ownership tax is charged in lieu of personal property tax. Vehicles do not need to be operated in order to be assessed this tax. The specific ownership taxes you paid for a registration year are on the back of your registration receipt.

Haven’t had your car registered in a year or more? You still have to pay for the time that you missed. This is referred to as Prior Specific Ownership Tax. The amount of this varies on the same factors mentioned above. The older the vehicle the lower these taxes are.

When will my fees go down? These rates will gradually go down for the first 5 years of the vehicle’s life. Between the ages of 5-10 years, the fees are calculated at the same rate. After the vehicle is 10 years or older the annual SOT is only $3.

What if this is a new purchase? SOT is calculated from the date of sale to the date you come in and apply for registration.

SOT tax is different than sales tax. Sales tax is a one-time fee on the initial title transfer of a purchase and is collected either from a dealer or when you come in to get your title and registration. Sales tax is often included in your lease or loan contract; this is not the case for SOT. SOT is paid each year a vehicle is registered.

Want to see a summary of all the fees paid in your registration? The fees are listed on the back of your registration. If you need a replacement copy, visit, then > Vehicle Services > Get a transaction receipt.

By Lori Mitchell

Chaffee County Clerk and Recorder