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Crackdown coming on Farm Tags

* cutline: Deputy Tax Collector Rhonda Fox and Tax Assessor/CollectorOdell Draper hold a B tag that have become popular choices for truck owners in the county. Draper has informed the Board of Supervisors that new regulations will severely limit the issuance of the special tags and will increase the county’s revenue in that department. (Jeremy Weldon)
Panola County Tax Assessor/Collector Odell Draper recently told the Board of Supervisors to expect some phone calls from constituents as some pick-up truck owners currently using “B” tags learn their vehicle is not eligible for the special designation and they will be required to pay for the more expensive regular tag upon renewal.“We have a lot of trucks on the road in this county that are running the B tags that shouldn’t have been allowed to get them in the first place,”Draper said. “All that is going to change July 1 when the new rules hit and there won’t be any more of that.”B tags replaced both (hence the B) farm truck tags and private truck plates that meet certain weight requirements. The state issues those tags at much less costs than tags issued by each county, which includeadditional charges for roads and bridges, and local schools.The yellow tags are usually B10 or B16 – depending on whether the combined weight of the truck and trailer attached are used to carry 10,000 or 16,000 pounds. To qualify for those tags, the owners of the vehicles to be plated should be a business owner and use the truck and trailer for commercial operations.Instead, Draper told supervisors, many people have requested the less expensive B tags and have listed themselves as a business entity or given the name of a business to qualify for special plates, often saving more than $1,000 on the initial tag purchase and hundreds of dollars insubsequent years.Those savings for individuals are costly for the county, Draper said. “These are citizens of Panola County who are using our roads every

day and they aren’t helping pay for the maintenance like everybody else who pays their share with their tags each year,” he said.Many of the trucks bearing B tags in Panola County are used to pull boats and recreational vehicles like golf carts and four-wheelers and not for commercial purposes. Under the new regulations about to take effect, anyone applying for a B tag will have to sign an affidavit stating the name and nature of the business they will use a truck and trailer for, and provide proof if requested that tax forms have been filed for that business.Draper said he expects the number of B tag renewals, and the initial purchases of new tags to drop drastically when the new rules are applied. With the knowledge that auditors will be checking the business and tax status of all B tag applications, many truck owners currently using the farm or commercial designation simply to save money will not continue that practice.“We have no problem for those people who should have those plates continuing to be able to use them, but it’s the ones that have them and not operating a real business that this will stop. Everybody uses the roads in the county and we all need to pay a fair share,” Draper