Audit: state overcharged for some MNLARS transactions

A new report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor details data accuracy issues with the state’s vehicle licensing and registration system (MNLARS) that resulted in the overcharging of some customers for taxes and fees and undercharging others.

The review covered MNLARS transactions from the time of the troubled system’s launch in July 2017 through February of this year.

The report says MNLARS “generally calculated” accurately some types of transactions, such as wheelage tax, sales tax and most license plate transactions. But there were “significant inaccuracies” in others, such as new vehicle registrations.

The report made several recommendations to the two state agencies in charge of the system, Minnesota IT Services and the Department of Public Safety, including the establishment of a process for routinely assessing the integrity of the data.

In their response to the report, agency leaders stressed that improvements have already been made to address inaccuracies related to system defects. But they also took issue with the way some of the report’s conclusions were drawn.

“The vast majority of inaccuracies asserted in this report are not the result of a malfunctioning MNLARS IT system,” the agencies said in a joint statement. “Rather, they largely reflect differences in interpretation of statute, human error in data entry, and the misalignment between unique Minnesota laws and automotive industry practices.”

Lawmakers are scheduled to discuss the findings Wednesday during a joint meeting of the House and Senate transportation committees.

“Too many Minnesotans have been getting fleeced for months by a system that has been broken for far too long,” said Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, chair of the House transportation committee. “This audit finally gives us an idea of the dollars and cents literally taken from the pockets of thousands of Minnesotans who were overcharged for their vehicle taxes and fees.”

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