The Party is Over Tax Evaders
As of July 1, 2023, thousands of Connecticut residents will be affected by Vermont’s decision to no longer allow out-of-state residents to register their cars unless they can prove a legitimate connection to the Green Mountain State.
Responding to a freedom of information request, the Vermont Agency of Transportation shows 3,629 Connecticut residents have registrations for cars or trucks to non-business owners with Connecticut mailing addresses. Fairfield has the most occurrences with 74 vehicles followed by East Haven (71), Branford (60), Hartford (51) and Wilton (51).
Before this rule change a person didn’t even have to step foot in the state to get one of those slick green license plates. All that was required was a $76 registration fee. Registered cars are also subject to a once-a-year inspection which is impossible to impose if the vehicle never enters the state, making Vermont a haven for cars that wouldn’t pass such yearly scrutiny.
Registering a Connecticut car in Vermont has saved motorists thousands of dollars by evading paying one of the highest property taxes in the nation, while at the same time having lower insurance rates.
Those having trouble registering their car in Connecticut always had Vermont to turn to as the latter does not require a title — just a bill of sale. Vermont also has not required proof of insurance or a driver’s license to register either.
Aside from individuals attempting to avoid regulations and fees in their home states, Vermont modified its regulations because of shady transactions. There were cases of people registering stolen cars, avoiding having insurance and avoiding having a driver’s license. Enough scam artists were so rude and hostile to Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) employees that law enforcement had to be stationed at DMV offices.
Tax evaders haven’t always turned to Vermont though; in 2019 the Maine Secretary of State’s office reported that 1,457 Connecticut residents registered their cars in the Pine Tree State.
Connecticut state law requires residents to register their car within 90 days or face penalties of up to $1,000 — but the rule is rarely enforced due to the enormous number of man-hours it takes to track down these drivers.
According to CT Inside Investigator, assuming three percent of Connecticut residents are driving with out-of-state plates, the state is losing as much as $30 million in revenue every year — not including registration and emission fees and parking tickets that go uncollected.
The state was aware of the problem and established a task force to study compliance with motor vehicle registration laws in 2019. Their objective was to provide suggestions to deter Connecticut residents from registering their vehicles in a different state while still living in Connecticut.
The task force was to submit a report of its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly by January 1, 2020. However, not enough appointments were made, and the task force never met and never produced the report.
Lawmakers tried to establish the task force again in 2021, but it experienced the same fate.
The party is over for those looking to Vermont to help dodge paying that pesky and highly offensive car property tax.
Gas Car Opponents Hold Press Conference You’ve Got to Drive to Witness
Proving that irony knows no bounds, environmental activists and a handful of lawmakers held a press conference on Wednesday (Aug. 30) demanding the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to adopt a new regulation that will ban the sale of new gas cars by 2035.
The catch: in order to watch the presser, one had to drive to the Legislative Office Building at the State Capitol. The event could have easily been done via Zoom or broadcast on CT-N to prevent those interested in attending from doing further damage to the planet.
Aside from silly name-calling and the mischaracterization of those who are concerned about government overreach and seeking clarity regarding the implementation of this regulation as anti-electric car, the special interest groups in attendance reiterated their usual talking points.
Charles Rothenberger, climate and energy attorney from Save the Sound, claimed the regulation is “necessary, perfectly achievable and in fact will make it easier for consumers to purchase the vehicles that they increasingly want.”
Rev. Josh Pawelek of the Unitarian Universalist Society said, “There’s a lot of fake news out there. Nobody is banning combustion engines in Connecticut and shame on those people who are perpetuating that false and fake news.”
Fake news? Last year California unveiled plans to discontinue the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035, after which all new vehicle sales will be zero-emission vehicles, with a focus on electric vehicles (EVs). On the California Air Resource Board (CARB) website it clearly states that “California will phase out gasoline-powered cars.”
CARB is responsible for establishing state air quality regulations from requirements for clean cars and fuels, and according to a Connecticut law passed in 2004, DEEP’s commissioner shall adopt and amend emission regulations implemented by the Golden State. So, nobody is banning gas cars, they are just phasing them out.
What advocates failed to address was the elephant in the room: how and who is going to pay the billions of dollars to build out the electric grid to accommodate a full electric car state.
According to estimates from vice president of system planning for Eversource, Dr. Digaunto Chatterjee, the utility will need to upgrade to at least eight substations in addition to building 14 new electrical substations. Chatterjee estimates this will cost between $1.5 – $2.4 billion in additional grid investments. This does not include any upgrades and new construction needed by the state’s other Electric Distribution Company United Illuminating (UI).
The comment period concluded Aug. 30, so now we wait for DEEP to provide a written report with responses and approval from the state Attorney’s General office. Once approved the regulation is then subject to review by the Legislative Regulation Review Committee — a joint bipartisan committee made up of 14 members: six senators and eight representatives with an equal amount from each party.
The committee can veto the regulation and allow the General Assembly to either uphold or reverse the committee’s veto. However, if the committee takes no action the regulation will be deemed approved.
This Week on Yankee’s Podcast Y CT Matters
Dr. Robert Graboyes — president of RFG Counterpoint, LLC — examines Connecticut’s healthcare system and offers seven innovative, constructive, bipartisan solutions he reveals in Yankee Institute’s latest policy report.
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Read the full report here