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Michigan dealers seek sixfold increase in DOC fee, to $250fee

November 22, 2010

New- and used-car sellers in Michigan want more money to prepare paperwork for securing a license plate and title, verifying odometer readings, calculating sales tax, and checking if a buyer has insurance. Now, $40 is the most that sellers can charge customers for preparing the paperwork.

Dealers want to increase the cap to either $250 or 5 percent of the sale—whichever is less—saying it is needed to cover rising costs.

Those costs include some resulting from government mandates imposed since the fee was set in 1990, such as verifying that a buyer does not have three or more alcohol-related driving convictions, said Pete Kuhnmuench, director of legislative affairs for the Michigan Automobile Dealers of Michigan.

A bill passed 9-2 in November with bipartisan support in the House Insurance and Financial Services Committee. Whether the entire state legislature will take it up before the end of the year is uncertain. Consumer groups contend the move is a greedy attempt by car sellers to gouge consumers by pressuring lameduck lawmakers who are no longer accountable to voters. The current legislative session ends Dec. 31, and many lawmakers are being replaced next month.