MNLARS review finds 'significant inaccuracies' in some transactions

A special review of the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS) found “significant inaccuracies” in some transactions, including those for newly registered passenger vehicles and heavy non-passenger vehicles as well as the Minnesota State Parks and Trails license plates. 

The review, released Tuesday by the Office of the Legislative Auditor, examined the accuracy of transactions in MNLARS from its implementation on July 24, 2017 to February 18, 2018. 

The review found MNLARS generally calculated certain types of transactions correctly, but inaccurate vehicle registration data within MNLARS and user errors resulted in some owners of similar vehicles being charged different tax amounts. 

For example, MNLARS had 130 different base values (the sum of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price and the shipping cost) for the 2018 Ford F-150 pickup truck, ranging from $2 to $70,000—differences which resulted in owners of similar vehicles playing significantly different amounts of registration tax. 

The review also identified some errors in transactions involved the Minnesota State Parks and Trails special license plates, which resulted in the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources losing $17,860 in funds. 

In 2017, the minimum contribution fee for the Minnesota State Parks and Trails license plate increased from $50 to $60—all of which the DNR receives. But, the review found the fee increase was not immediately incorporated into MNLARS and instead remained at $50. 

The Department of Public Safety reportedly discovered the error on July 7, 2017, but instructed system users to continue charging $50. The minimum contribution fee was not corrected in MNLARS until November 9, 2017. During those four months, MNLARS processed nearly 1,800 license plate transactions at $50 rather than $60. 

Overall, the Office of the Legislative Auditor said its review revealed examples of data within MNLARS that “simply did not make sense.” It concluded DPS “does not routinely assess the integrity of MNLARS data” and, as a result, "customers have paid incorrect amounts in taxes and fees.”