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Vehicle Registration Collections - Program Overview

The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) focuses primarily on efficient and cost-effective tax revenue collection. It makes sense for public agencies to entrust FTB to operate other revenue collection programs on their behalf.

In 1993, the Legislature passed Revenue and Taxation Code Section 10878 which transferred responsibility for collecting overdue vehicle registration fees to FTB.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) focuses on its primary services to its customers: driver’s license certification or renewal, motor vehicle licensing, and annual vehicle registration renewals. The DMV mails nearly 26 million vehicle registration renewal notices to Californians every year. Approximately 1.3 million of these vehicle registration accounts, worth an estimated $316 million, become delinquent. The DMV lacks the administrative authority to take involuntary collection actions, such as bank or wage levies. Instead, they must file actions against debtors in small claims court.

FTB exercises its administrative authority to take involuntary collection actions on behalf of DMV. In fiscal year 2012-2013, FTB handled approximately 1.4 million accounts for DMV and collected nearly $142 million.

Delinquent Vehicle Registration Collections Process

DMV mails an annual renewal notice to the last known registered vehicle owner 60 days before the registration expiration date. If the vehicle owner fails to pay the renewal amount by the expiration date, DMV sends one additional notice. This notice advises the owner that they refer unpaid accounts to FTB for collection action.

Throughout the collection process, DMV retains management responsibility for all referred accounts. We refer all account disputes or complaints to the DMV Liaison Section or to the debtor’s local DMV field office for resolution, allowing DMV customers to deal directly with their local DMV field office.

By the time we receive an account referral, the debt is generally 90 days delinquent. We immediately issue a Demand for Payment Notice. If the debtor does not respond to the notice within 10 days, we begin involuntary collection actions, such as bank and wage levies.

  • Bank levy: Once we issue a bank levy attaching the debtor’s bank accounts, we provide the debtor at least 10 days from the notice date to pay the debt voluntarily before the bank automatically forwards the funds to us.
  • Wage levy: Once we issue a wage levy to a debtor’s employer, we provide the debtor at least 10 days from the notice date to pay the debt voluntarily before the employer begins withholding up to 25 percent of the debtor’s disposable income.

As DMV’s collection agent, we forward all funds collected to DMV. DMV then makes disbursements to various state and county agencies.

Delinquent Vehicle Registration Collections Funding

We fund our Vehicle Registration Collections Program through the Motor Vehicle Account, State Transportation Fund, and the Motor Vehicle License Fee Account, Transportation Tax Fund.

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