It’s coming around April 15th, so I am getting the taxes together, and I thought I would vent my spleen for a minute.
At some level, no one likes paying taxes. It’s your money, and it is being taken from you against your will. And every citizen has a long list of things the government does with that money that pisses them off. I’m no exception. But overall, I really don’t mind paying my fair share. I don’t mind paying income taxes, I don’t mind paying for medicare or social security, and I really don’t even mind minor regressive taxes like the state sales tax, the gas tax, sin taxes on things, etc. I don’t think of these things are punishments, I think of them as the price I get to pay to be in one of the best clubs in the world. When I pay my income tax, I think to myself, I’m so lucky to be able to have enough income that taxing it isn’t a burden, and I’m glad to help out. I’m not a joiner in civic causes, so this really is one way I am doing my part.
But there is one tax that just makes me sputter in rage every time I pay it, and that is when I have to go to the County Assessor and pay taxes on a car that was, in my case, purchased three decades ago. It makes no damned sense to me whatsoever. None. Why should I, in the year 2012, be required to go give 100 bucks to the Sheriff for a car that was purchased in 1997? Why? And why stop there? I purchased my current couch a couple years ago, why is my car being taxed and not my couch? Why not my tv’s? What about my laptop? Or my lawnmower? Or my bed- hell, I use that a helluva lot more than my car.
It’s a miniscule amount of money, but it just infuriates me to no end, because I just can not figure out the logic behind it. I had to spend a couple grand last year to replace two axles, a head gasket, and other repairs, the car is so god damned old. But you have the big brass balls to tax me on this 15 year old ride? This is literally the one tax that turns me into a teahadist, and again, it is miniscule compared to the amount of taxes I gladly pay every year.
But for some reason, this one, every time I think about it, just makes me angrier than I can describe. If they were to just charge me the same amount every year I pay in property tax and call it “the right to live in this county tax” I wouldn’t blink and I would write the check. But taxing me for something that was purchased in 1997 just makes a little part of me explode in rage every time.
15 years is 3 decades? you sound like me, since i’m getting old too.
helps to hold an oversized horn up to your ear.
@mclaren: So charge me a flat tax for driving the fucking road (and the money generated isn’t spent on road repairs anyway, so quit sputtering in rage about traffic lights). Why does the value of my car and the blue book value change the level of the tax, instead of the mileage driven? Does my 97 Subaru do less damage to the road than a 2012 Cadillac, which is why I pay less than the Caddy owner?
You’re talking out your ass here. I’ll give you points for anger, but STFU until you have an answer.
@mclaren: This. Sorry John.
that’s one thing that always drove me nuts about living in VA back in the day. i drove a piece of shit escort station wagon and the state tax i payed on it every year was more than it was worth. i felt like i could have given the state the car in exchange for the bill.
@mclaren: Of course gas taxes make vastly more sense economically and are far less regressive than typical car registration taxes, but for inscrutable reasons people get even more pissed off about those.
He’s right, Wiliiamson.
Cole, I think you’d find a lot of problems could be eliminated, and your quality of life improved overall, if you’d just accept the fact that the word OF needs to follow the word COUPLE in any context where COUPLE is being used as a numerative modifier.
@John Cole: What do you want them to do, put up a toll booth you have to stop at every single day? Sit there by the side of the road with a clipboard and write down everyone’s license plate number to know who uses the road? The reason you have to pay this illogical tax is that it’s by far the simplest administrative option. Also too, 15 years is not 3 decades.
What everybody else said.
1. You drive on roads. State, County and Federal governments spend collectively well north of $100B every year on road maintenance.
2. Money is fungible. How do you figure “that money” isn’t spent on roads?
3. No taxation system is perfect. Taxing your car is one way of collecting money from everybody who uses roads. Deal with it.
The other other Max
In Pennsylvania they do it more like a flat rate…$36 annual registration per vehicle, regardless of the vehicle worth. When I was in Connecticut, it seemed to be something more like it sounds how WV does it; had to pay something like $600 a year for my not-so-new Accord.
I’ve got sympathy for ya on this one.
What’s wrong with that?
which is funny since the gas tax, in terms of real dollars, has gone down in the last 15 years at least.
while it always drove me nuts to have to pay property tax on my piece of shit car, that was mostly because it was such a piece of shit that i never drove it. barely ran and when it did it sounded like a gurgling whale. truth is, gas taxes don’t cover shit anymore, and somethings gotta pay for the roads.
Is this different than paying your car’s registration fee? I have to pay X amount to California every year to keep my car registered with the state and get registration stickers, but it’s not a “tax.” Or, at least, I’ve never thought of it as one. More like an extension of my driving privileges.
@Steve: Yes. Obviously bitching about paying taxes on something purchased 15 years ago means, without question, I want toll roads everywhere.
Your troll fu sucks.
@Mnemosyne: No, I don’t mind the registration fee. I’m registering my car. I’m not paying taxes on something purchased decades ago.
It costs you a $100 because it isn’t $200. Or $500. Or $1000.
See, it’s one of the few such taxes that isn’t regressive and is actually tied to use of the public space AND to likely income.
It’s $100 because the assumption is you’re driving an older car because you can’t afford a newer car.
It’s $100 because it’s an old Chevy, not an old Mercerdes.
It’s $100 because it’s an old Chevy that lightly wears the road, not an 18-wheeler that tears hell out of the pavement.
It’s $100 and not $200, or $500, or $1000 because somewhere, somehow, someone in West By God Virginia figured out that maybe someone driving a 15 year old Chevy rustbucket might not owe, and might not be able to afford, a brand new MB SUV.
Easist answer I’ve had to give all day.
Couldn’t they just as easily read your mileage every time you take your car in for a yearly inspection and tax you based on the results?
@John Cole: Does it really matter if you call it a “tax” or “registration fee”? In NY we pay a biannual registration fee, and I am not sure how they figure out the amount for each vehicle.
Seriously, it would make the most sense to charge by weight and miles-driven. A 14,500-pound truck does a noticeable bit more damage to asphalt than does a 2500-lb lightweight vehicle. (Though, neither one approaches a big 18-wheeler, in terms of road damage.)
Gasoline taxes to pay for roads work sort-of-okay for the moment, for approximating “miles driven”, but are getting less and less useful because of alternative fuels (CNG, electricity), plus as some have already noted, the gas tax is just way too small to cover road maintenance.
@John Cole: Actually your gas taxes usually cover the roads and stuff. Your registration covers the stuff you think it does. The car tax really is just stupid. My guess is it was implemented to cover local fixed costs like installing traffic lights.
One of the more damaging aspects of our taxation system is the inefficiencies and friction between fed/state/local. At some point your local govt didn’t get enough out of the state fuel taxes or whatever and rather than impose a local gas tax, they did what you pay.
So you have to pay a registration fee and a separate tax? That just seems like a weird way for the state to do it. I guess there’s probably a tax included with my registration fees here in California, but since it’s all one payment, I don’t really notice.
Though, now that I think about it, former governor Gray Davis was recalled in large part because the “car tax” (aka VLF or vehicle license fee) went up, so I guess some people do think of it as a tax on their car instead of an operation fee.
Having a separate tax and registration fee seems like a good way to piss people off.
When I lived in CT they had a similar tax and the idea that my broke down, hand-me-down, chevy caprice classic was worth $400 in tax was crazy. Luckily NY doesn’t have the same system. Of course they do collect income tax on my pay that I earn in CT. I get a credit for what I pay to CT, but because NY charges more, they want the difference.
@BigSouthern: SHUT UP, THAT’S WHY?
I’m also loving how I am now being portrayed as some selfish anti-tax crusader because this tax simply makes no sense, despite the fact I pay it any way and it is a miniscule portion of my tax burden. The simple fact is this tax makes no sense. Hell, if they charged me double what I pay, no matter what make and model and what the value of the KBB on my car was, and just labeled it a tax to pay for roads and the like, I would say nothing. Send me a bill every year based on my income that says “This is your tax bill for road construction.”
But it is the notion of being taxed on property purchased years ago that pisses me off. It makes no sense. It is counter-intuitive, it is not based on logic or reason, and well, makes no sense.
Which, since you’re driving a car that’s probably well over the median age*, would be even more.
*Three decades! No, wait: it’s TWO CENTURIES OLD!
WTF, John? This post is missing a “+ n” postscript.
John, read this and get back to us. It’s the price we pay to live in a decent country although the writer of this article is annoyed that many of the citizenry don’t get it.
Taxes and registration seems like double-dipping.
Registration fee, plus excise tax…it’s irritating, but just one more excuse for the state to turn out my pockets. Oddly enough it’s one tax I don’t really mind paying because at least it’s being spent on something I can and do use every day. Local taxes? Same deal – my daughter has good teachers in an excellent special needs program at her school, and I like that very much and am willing to pay for it. I did, in fact, vote for a property tax increase year before last, which passed (in a heavily Republican district) by a margin of 4 to 1. Local library is open on Sundays and gets a reasonable number of new books, and I like that too. As opposed to my federal taxes paying for the war on East Oceania or whoever the enemy de jour is in our permanent state of war, or worse yet being used for some fucking bond trader’s bonus or oil company subsidies. Now those things do irritate me no end, and I don’t have any choice about it.
Yep. I go to the Sheriff’s office with my proof of insurance, driver’s license, registration, and VIN number and car data. They say, oh, you owe $X amount for your fifteen year old Subaru. I pay it, they give me a receipt, and then I drive ten miles to the DMV with proof I paid my auto tax, and then I pay 30 bucks to register the car for a year.
Again, it makes no sense. No aspect of it.
I’m with you. It was the one thing I truly hated while living in Virginia.
PS. I share your views on paying taxes in general. While I wish I got to keep more (and who wouldn’t), it is a price I am quite happy to pay to live in this country.
@John Cole: You’ve just described almost everything that happens when more than three humans are involved in any one activity. Your chosen snapping point is vehicle ad valorem. Sure, why not.
It’s called a wealth tax. The middle class pays it. The poor don’t pay it because they have no wealth. The rich pay it on a miniscule percentage of their wealth. The rich’s wealth in stocks and bonds go untaxed for years, decades or even beyond their deaths. The middle class has much of their wealth in homes and cars. So, they get taxed on their wealth every year.
Think on the concept of a Flat Tax on wealth.
I don’t understand the distinction you’re drawing about when the car was purchased. If it’s still roadworthy and you’re still driving on the roads, the date of purchase is, in itself, irrelevant, isn’t it?
What exactly is this tax/payment/pound of flesh called on the notice you receive or the paperwork you file?
Congratulations. You have successfully ignored every single thing I have said in this post, including this:
You might as well randomly respond to every post with “I LIKE PIE.”
John, thanks for letting out your inner wingnut for a run around the dog park.
But how else will we pay for the oil company tax loopholes? Remember, if we take away those temporary tax cuts against oil company billions in profits, it will be a “tax increase” upon some really wealthy people. And we can’t have that, can we? Mitch McConnell and John Boehner say “no” to that idea. Thanks for playing this edition of “Outraged Citizen.”
Speak for yourself John, I have absolutely no objection to paying taxes, including the property tax on my car. I do take the most basic deductions on my income tax, but there are some that I could take and don’t because I don’t want to make the record keeping effort that would be required and I don’t mind paying the tax. Somebody has to provide the money to pay the soldiers and sailors who defend our freedom, and if not me, then who?
Many years ago I was at an AA meeting and after the meeting a group of people were complaining about income taxes coming due. I had not had a job in over a year and after listening to their complaints for a while I told them, “You know what I would love to have your fucking problem, and have an income on which to pay income tax.”
Reading comprehension, wtf is that?
I’ve stated I would gladly pay double in taxes than I do on this nonsensical auto tax, but now I am a wingnut?
This tax makes no sense. Period.
I can’t wait to hear how you all think property taxes are the smart way to fun public schools.
Re-reading, would you rather the tax was charged on something other than the car value? I could see a useful metric being, say, the weight of a car, or your income, but either one alone could be problematic. The working poor guy with a Chevy truck puts more stress on the road than someone rich with a darling Morris Mini, but should he pay more?
The value of the car may be a decent indirect assessment of the right price: if it’s a piece of crap car, the driver is either frugal or broke, and rightfully gets a break on payments. If they’re driving a pricey car, they’re either rich or foolish, and if it’s the latter, maybe it’s time to get a cheaper car, or a bike.
@Bill H.: And you missed the same paragraph as Jeff Boatright at comment #33.
I give up.
I READS WHATEVERS I WANT TO READ, DAMNED WHAT YOU ACTUALLY WRITE.
In CA it’s both a flat registration fee and a “tax” based on value. The part that the Governator reduced was the value based part. You probably notice this part as well, since it’s detuctable on federal taxes.
Cole, my POS car is 4 decades old by your math, bought in 1985. Still have to pay based on value, though only $10.
I paid $120 for my POS car because I could not afford the $64 bucks it was initially 3 months earlier. It is now holding down the pavement in my driveway, because something else broke/wore out and now I don’t have the $200 to replace the battery and alternator. I don’t truly feel your pain, but I do feel your frustration. Even the $64 felt a bit much, double that and the white whale then has the bad taste to break? God is Loki.
@Comrade Mary: Get rid of the damned tax and jack up income taxes. Or base it on mileage. Or increase the gas tax. Or increase the annual registration fee for registering a car. Find the least regressive way to make up the money. But stop taxing people for shit they bought years ago.
@John Cole: In CA, car registration tax is proportional to car cost.
It’s like many other property taxes.
Little known fact: Gov Gray Davis was recalled in part because of increasing the Registration taxes. Ergo, wingnut darrly Issa.
we’re still mad about it.
Well shit. And here I was all hyped up about an anti-IRS rant and you’re whining about vehicle taxes.
I’m with Mr. Cole on this.
Washington State likes to fucking nickel and dime people at every fucking opportunity, to which I say: Just get a fucking income tax already and stop fucking bothering me.
@John Cole: Hmm. I bought my house 5 years ago. In another two decades, can I ask not to pay property taxes any more?
(We don’t get to deduct mortgage interest from income taxes up here. Even though I know that this deduction is bad news, really, man, I envy you guys sometimes.)
EDIT: What kind of state income taxes do you guys pay?
I don’t own a car. What I love about this tax is that I totally benefit from good roads anyway through public transportation, the smooth flow of goods and services through town etc etc.
As a frequent pedestrian I also benefit from quality road signage and traffic signals.
But I don’t pay the particular tax that John is talking about and my state definitely has it. In fact you have to register your car at the tax assessor’s office so here at least it is one stop and one fee. If they channeled it through a gas tax, my fees for buses and other goods would rise and I would share the pain. Other wise color me a free loader.
And I totally don’t mind paying taxes either. For all my bitching this is a great country and I don’t mind paying my fair share either. Of course, I paid more when I was fully employed and making more than $12k a year, but that will turn around right?
@Bill H.: I’ve never minded either.
I get John’s frustration at sh*t that just makes no dang sense though, I do. But so much makes so little sense and I’m not completely convinced this isn’t paying for something that John would actually appreciate in some way, maybe even really, really indirectly. Govt Fee/Tax is just a funny rage trigger for a lot of folks given John’s political history and the narrative that we might need to paint that the Govt is good and can be better. Not that this is a ‘true’ assualt on that narritive John, calm down folk.
For any state wherein the tax structure is eternally fucked because of retarded things like California’s Prop 13, vee-hickle fees are just one bit of the Krazy Quilt of taxes and fees they use to try to balance the budget.
Hey, it is pretty good that your 1997 car is still going strong. My 1999 died last year so the good news is that I got a new car. Bad news is that I had to buy another car. Other good news is that with gas prices as high as they are, buying a Prius was a good choice. 54 MPG is a good thing.
Okay, that’s just weird. And here I was pissed off because I have to get a goddamned smog check every year. Which, by the way, means that the state of California requires me to pay $50 to a — gasp! — private company before I can register my car with the state.
At least I discovered a smog check place that’s authorized to print my registration and give me my stickers on the spot, so I don’t have to drive all over town anymore.
Sounds like the equivalent of what in VA we call the “personal property tax.” It’s an asset of yours, and is hence taxed. No one complains that they bought their house umpty-ump years ago so they shouldn’t have to pay taxes on it anymore goddammit. It’s a proxy for your overall wealth. Probably also has the effect of controlling the amount of undriveable cars up on blocks in your neighbors’ front yards, too.
Why are you bitching at us? Bitch at your state legislator. He or she can do something about your issue.
Jeezus H. Kee-rist on a Segway.
“Every cent anybody pays in tax is spent to benefit him. There’s no better place to spend it. I enjoy this country and I really think I get my money’s worth.”
Next they’ll be taxing broccoli
@John Cole: Haha. I got all your other points and feel the same way, but why is a “tax” sticking in your craw when where I live it’s called a fee? Shit I drive an ’88 Nova with 240K on the odometer. I pay a wheel tax that is comparable to an SUV but do I complain? Why, yes, yes I do. And while I may be pie-faced, I’m not much into desserts, just or otherwise.
I bought my house years ago and still have to pay taxes on it. Why not my car? Fundamentally, what is the difference?
My grandfather bought his shares of AT&T stock in 1937. He’s still paying taxes on the dividends.
I’m not getting the link between “X is old” and “I shouldn’t have to pay taxes on X.”
Or bitch about this, which is really stupid.
My car’s a 1998 Toyota, so I pay a whopping $19 on that line.
If my car dies and I have to buy a new one, I’ll probably notice it again, but I’m probably paying about the least amount you can in registration fees. When I remember to register on time, anyway.
This “shit they bought years ago” recurring bit is peculiar. A lot of people own valuable things for a period of many years. For instance, real estate.
@Comrade Mary: Work in CT with a 4% tax and live in NY with a 6% tax rate. But we do get mortgage deduction which substantially lowers my taxes.
So I think I might have failed one of these today.
I want to vomit.
coin operated replicant
@Gustopher: As a single male with no debt or mortgage, I’m telling you right now you do not want a friggin state income tax. I’ve lived in both Oregon and Washington, and the nickle and dime routine you get in Washington comes nowhere close to the 9-percent-of-your-income reaming I take every year here in Oregon.
My registration came out to about $65 for the new Malibu total, which is about what I was paying for the old car. I call it worth shelling out for.
This should get Cole out of his funk: live Little Feat.
@burnspbesq: Good luck with that, too. “this tax is asinine! I demand that you raise taxes on something else to make up for it!”. Presumably this was the lowest-hanging fruit there was. Cut it, and it’s not like something else is going to go up to pay for it. You’ll just have a state budget with a hole in it, and further service cuts.
John, let me understand this, you pay auto registration to the state of WV, but also have to pay an assessment to the county? Different governments: county, state, federal. Each has taxing powers, sometimes even cities levy taxes.
Oh, I have an anti-IRS rant for you. Why the fuck can’t you guys make the goddamned rules clear for filing separately in a community property state? Why the hell is the “worksheet” to figure out if we should file separately or jointly only useful if you do the whole damn 1040 first?
G and I wasted two hours on this thing only to discover that, because the vast majority of our income was from wages, neither of us owed anything additional. Well, thanks a lot, goddamned IRS, maybe you could have made that more clear before we wasted time on your stupid worksheet!
Hope I do not anger fellow Californians here and get up another CA tax revolt, or drive Cole into more outrage, but the CA registration fee/tax is not intended to go to road maintenance. Before Arnold lowered it, the CA registration fee was supposed to be a mechanism to even general fund revenues over the business cycle, which is needed since CA state revenues are so heavily dependent upon pro cyclical income and profit tax receipts.
Compared to current CA budget mess, it is small potatoes now, but before the recession and big panic of 08, it was part of a fix to cyclical CA budget problem.
However, I think in most places in US, gas and registration fees combined do not cover road maintenance and traffic infrastructure, but more like half.
We drivers are welfare queens, you see.
The WV system would irritate me too. Not so much the money, but the irritation if you have to make two payments instead of one. Why not role it all up in registration fee/tax?
Exactly. Houses and cars are general the two largest assets people have. Property taxes get homeowners for the town services they use, but renters don’t pay them (though the taxes their landlord pays is passed on to them). Taxing vehicles widens the tax base beyond just those who own homes and catches a lot more people. If there wasn’t a vehicle tax, your property tax would be higher.
As for value, it’s a matter similar to that of property taxes; it’s based on the fair market value of the vehicle. From the assessor’s point-of-view, that’s the only fair and legal way to do it, because it isn’t subjective and is the same for everyone who drives the same kind of car.
I’m beginning to share Cole’s frustration here. Just because a person supports the idea of taxation doesn’t mean they have to support every type of tax, especially if it’s a stupid tax or is a very inefficient way of funding something. People will accept almost anything as long as they’re given a logical reason and they will get pissed off if they think they’re being treated in an arbitrary fashion.
I’m also from Washington State and agree that it’s ridiculous the lengths that the legislature will go to avoid ‘raising taxes’ by putting fees on everything instead.
You don’t have 30 year mortgages, either. No Fannie, no Freddie, no interest deduction, and you STILL have a property bubble. Funny how banks manage to create one regardless of the regulatory and tax environment.
Oh, sorry to everyone for posting off the topic of random crabbiness.
@Cole – the car tax doesn’t strike me as all that different from any other property tax. You own it, the government provides services related to it, and the money has to come from somewhere. Thus, tax. The same money could come from a gas tax, but for whatever reason WV has decided to strike a different balance (one that probably cause people to own fewer cars but driving each one more). I think that most of the costs related to transportation should come from a gas tax (beyond the costs associated with keeping track of vehicle titles) but people don’t want to pay that, either.
But real estate is durable property — short of buying a cliffside lot in Malibu and watching it slide into the ocean after a bad rainy season, that property is always going to be there. A car is a consumer good that will eventually end up being disposed of.
So it’s the stupidity of the way the tax is assessed and the inconvenience of it that’s your problem with it, not the tax itself, right? Maybe try calling it The Onion tax and have a laugh.
You’re taxed on your car because that tax is easy to assess. After all, the government is effectively providing a service by registering your car, promising to recover it if it’s stolen, etc…
You’re taxed on your car because that tax is easy to assess. After all, the government is effectively providing a service by registering your car, promising to recover it if it’s stolen, etc…
Thought experiment: if it was trivially easy to pay that tax, would you feel better about it?
It’s a part of tax policy that is usually ignored. Nobody really complains about how much they pay in gas taxes because nobody bothers to add it up (30,000 mi at 30 MPG is 1000 gal, or about $500 here in CA.) and because you don’t have to do expend any effort to pay it.
If they just upped your vehicle registration by $100, I suspect you wouldn’t mind nearly so much, even though it’s still the same thing. I think your objection is really how much of your time and effort is needed to pay the tax, rather than the amount or nature of the tax itself. You don’t think the tax is unfair, you think having to go and pay the tax is unfair. It’s not the money so much as the extra imposition on your time and effort. Several times you go out of your way to say ‘go to the assessor’, ‘go give the sherriff’. It’s the extra step I think that pisses you off.
It’s a part of interacting with the public that institutions routinely fuck up. For a lot of money you won’t mind, but now $100 doesn’t mean so much to you, but your time does. When you ask a lot of time in exchange for a little money, people get really pissed. It’s the inefficiency of the act that bothers them.
Marcellus Shale, Public Dick
meh, i think its liberal reflex to defend taxation as a general principle at this point.
there are taxes that everyone hates, as noted, and ones that don’t seem fair or adapted well to particular circumstances. the polar opposite of a loophole, but on the same paradigm.
that said, and with noted irony the breaks corporate-people get for amortizing assets as they depriciate, you would think a government principle would actually be more along the lines of getting goods to change hands more often, thus they would want to discourage the buying and holding of durable goods past their planned obsolescence.
of course that isn’t the point either.
the point is we all have stuff we do that puts us in the taxation cross-hairs, unless we obsess about taxes. i know people who live in bumfucking egypt so to avoid the higher local taxes in civilization. then they complain about gas prices, and having to sell raffle tickets for their volunteer fire department, and a bunch of shit that comes with bfe. somehow they get mad when you connect that to their a priori of paying the lowest tax rare.
the marginal utility and opportunity costs of having taxable fucks to give
If the tax that you pay on the vehicle doesn’t go to roads, traffic lights, etc., then I’m pretty much with you. I just don’t see why you’d be pissed about this but not about sin taxes. If the taxes I pay toward booze and smokes went toward medical care for the illnesses to which those vices contribute, I’d have no problem with them.
I have to admit I was hoping for an epic income tax rant too, maybe with something about the post office/UN conspiracy, or Cole found out he cannot deduct Tunch’s food bill, and is financially ruined.
@Mnemosyne: I own a condo townhouse. I don’t own the land or even the roof, just a house interior that needs upkeep. But I still pay property taxes, the same as people in those highrise condos downtown (although my condo fees are way lower). My place is still an asset, and while it’s been appreciating for a while, I expect physical and financial depreciation, too.
My guess is, as I noted above, is different juristictions are collecting their own taxes. It’d be nice if they could combine them. On the other hand if the state did the collection, they’d probably keep some or all of it.
I’ve lived in CA 49 of my 52 years; the first ballot I voted had a certain Prop 13 on it. I know about tax revolts.
@Mnemosyne: There are all sorts of policy reasons for taxing real estate that go beyond revenue. Property can be hoarded, title can get hopelessly confused, and so on. Taxing it forces the land on to the market, eventually, where it will be more likely to be put to an appropriate use. Some of our hopelessly messed up mortgage foreclosures may be ‘fixed’ by going into tax foreclosure, too.
@kent: Property tax is effectively residency tax. Renters just pay it indirectly via the landlord. It’s really most similar to federal payroll taxes in its nature.
How much, total do you pay for the $X and the $30 registration fee?
@Marcellus Shale, Public Dick:
” opportunity costs of having taxable fucks ”
Oh uh. I’m about to do my taxes. Which fucks are taxable? I assume only commercial ones? Or casual? Or general? Or committed sig other f’s?
Can we write off Valentines Day expenses?
Isn’t this the issue with “revenue” in general? Some of our ways of collecting funds to support the commons are not particularly logical. But that’s because this stuff gets voted in/executively implemented via trying to deal with the public’s perception and special interest meandering. It is probably a good goal to try to make things as sensible as possible but what seems fair to one group, or during one point in time, may not be to others as the context changes. There’s plenty of arguments either way for some of the bigger ticket items like property tax and state income tax; the small stuff is certainly the most arbitrary of the lot.
Anyway, I recommend watching Trollhunter as it brings up the critical issue of whether a nation should spend so much tax money on troll management.
I have to say, the California DMV has really done a lot to improve efficiency and be more convenient. You used to have to join AAA to avoid the lines at the DMV office, but now pretty much the only reason to ever have to go into one is to renew your license. You have no idea how excited I was at the smog check place that I could get my registration and stickers right there at the same counter!
But, as you said, real estate is an asset that appreciates even if the actual building has some depreciation. Even with the real estate bubble slowly deflating, you’re not going to have the equivalent of when they gave G $100 for his old Escort because he was able to drive it to the junkyard.
Nobody’s car appreciates in value over the years. (I suppose some collector, somewhere, has a car that’s worth more now than it sold new, but that’s pretty freakin’ rare and the odds that he actually drives it every day are even lower.)
ETA: Okay, you’re not normally going to have the house equivalent of a junker car. Obviously, if you bought a house in Detroit and the land value dropped to essentially zero, then you actually are screwed. But, again, I would argue that’s an unusual situation.
@jl: I think charitable fucks are fully deductible. Any fucks that contribute to retirement should be deferred until you withdraw the fuck. And certainly any fucks that appreciate in value get taxed on the fuckable gain above your cost basis.
Thank you, everyone, for making me feel good about driving a twenty year-old car in Arizona. $27 a year — yippee!
I’ve never heard of smog test places that do registration as well, I’ll have to look into that for the wife (her registration is up soon). Probably won’t work for my car, I have to go to the “test only” places :(
dang. ya’ll got some fucked up shit goin on.
I aint never had to get my shit inspected.
My registration is 55 dollars, i think. it dont matter what kinda car it is. then they nail you another 15 fer being late. then i think its another 5 to pay online.
they send the sticker to me. its easy, and i dont mind the deal.
they just raised it a lil while back too. still a good deal imho.
i live in wisconsin btw. our gas taxes are higher than other states that border us.
Because sadism can be fun. :)
@Mnemosyne: Yeah, they have made it quite a bit better. Seriously, I think if government made it drop-dead simple to pay taxes, not only would there be less complaining about the tax rates, there’d be grater compliance as well. Congress will never, ever learn that though.
So the wing nuts are right when they call the IRS “jack booted thugs”?
so because my two college kids each made more than 3700 dollars last year – I can’t claim them as dependents any longer. Despite the fact I am more than 50% of their support.
That cost me a ton of money for no good reason.
The prophet Nostradumbass
@Comrade Kevin: Nick fail, from using browser I haven’t used in a while.
@Martin: Yes, but try tell someone that their property tax and mortgage deductions are going away. Republicans talk about this every 4 years, taxes on a post card, but never seem to do anything about it when they’re in power.
Joe’s Smog in Glendale — corner of San Fernando and Western.
(Assuming you’re here in the So Cal Glendale and not the tiny unincorporated Northern Cal Glendale, of course.)
As long as we’re venting here, in New York State self-employed slaves have to pay a “commuter’s tax.” THAT makes no fucking sense whatsoever, since I and probably jillions of other self-employed slaves work at home, and use city rail and subways less than motherfuckers who work for The Man. (Or on wall street for that matter)
I’m all for mass transit, and in my case this particular tax costs about $75 bucks a year, but you know why self-employed suckers have to pay it and other dipshits don’t? Because not being organized, we had no way to oppose this bullshit (unlike the frigging unions) when the blind governor made it a law. So we can just suck it. Talk about making no fucking sense whatsoever.
Cole wrote: “It’s your money …” Actually, I wish more people would acknowledge that in fact, it’s not really your money, in a way. You — or Ayn Rand or John Frigging Galt or Snappy the Libtard — wouldn’t “make” any money at all without an elaborate infrastructure that everybody pays for. Sure it’s your money, but try making some without even the barest-boned version of soshilism.
@Mnemosyne: I think I went there the last 2 times I smoged. Maybe I was cheap and just drove across town to AAA.
@BillinGlendaleCA: That’s fairly straightforward to fix – just crank up the standardized deduction and tell everyone to get over it. Most homeowners will break even and all renters will come out ahead.
They may have only just gotten the thumbs-up from the DMV — when I got smog-checked two years ago, it wasn’t an option, but this time the guy said, “So do you want to get your stickers and registration, too?” and I said, “YES!” I don’t think there was an extra DMV fee to do it there.
Marcellus Shale, Public Dick
only giving of fucks is taxable,fucks are like retirement account distributions it is assumed that the fucks one accumulates were tax deferred at the time, thus when you choose to distribute them, you alone bear the burden regardless of how you acquired them.
@coin operated replicant:
Hey, count your blessings. Here we have flat income tax rate (3.4%), 7% sales tax (thanks, Mitch Daniels!), local option tax, property tax, and yes, excise tax on vehicles based upon value of vehicle. Oh yeah, 7% sales tax does apply to car purchases, so if you buy a new car for $20k you can tag $1400 on top of the sales price which goes straight to the state. Kind of a regressive tax structure, you might say….
They don’t have to be jack booted thugs. One IRS auditor in a bad suit can have you pissing blood and waking up at 2 am in a cold sweat for years without ever actually finding a violation.
Just for the record, I love paying my taxes. I wish I paid more in taxes.
@Martin: Good progressive solution, I like it. You might run into problems with the “get over it part”.
@Marcellus Shale, Public Dick:
It’s one of those things that’s so basic that you’d think even a goddamn conservative could wrap their head around it. Paying taxes is as much a part of growing up and becoming a full fledged member of society as getting a job.
@Mnemosyne: Thanks, I’ll suggest the wife go there. It’s close to us as well.
Being taxed on real estate or property at least makes sense. A car is not real estate, it’s a consumer good that depreciates much like a washing machine, my couch, my tv, etc.
Oh, good lord. Your grandfather is most certainly not taxed for simply owning shares of AT&T stock. No one who owns stocks is simply taxed on them for the simple fact they own them like they own a car. Stocks are taxed on capital gains, in the case that they, get this, make CAPITAL GAINS. If those stocks depreciated in value (LIKE MY CAR DOES EVERY YEAR), they most certainly would not be subject to capital gains taxes.
Sometimes the comments here are dumber than at Red State.
@suzanne: Is it something you can re-take?
Aaah, finally a thread I can engage in … because every year, after I do my taxes, I add up all my income (which almost always is actually my AGI) and divide all my taxes (state, city & Fed, but not sales taxes — I live in NYC which is a high-tax jurisdiction) into it to see what I *really* pay in taxes. My income is irregular, because I’m self-employed, so it has varied a lot.
Looking at my total tax rates since I’ve been able to take advantage of the mortgage deduction, my *real* tax rate has ranged from 27% to 9%. The 27% was for 1999, the 9% for 2008 (can you see the correlation with the economy?) Before the real estate deduction, my *real* tax rate was never lower than 25%, BTW.
So, no, I don’t mind paying taxes. I’d rather live through 1999 again than 2008.
Within these trends, my federal taxes keep going down, while my state and local taxes keep going up, especially real estate taxes. However, for some mysterious reason, the value of the real estate in my neighborhood keeps going up with it, along with general city-wide safety, transportation options (we have bikelanes! and watertaxies!) and other good stuff. Why wouldn’t I want to pay for that?
Your problem, Cole, is that you are dependent upon your car. Live in a place where you don’t need your car, and all the problems and headaches it gives you — of which this tax appears to be the least, to be honest — will go away.
But I keep waiting for the anti-taxers to notice that the most desirable places to live are all high tax jurisdictions. Maybe our taxes pay for something? Maybe?
Why yes John but we still put up with you and Doug anyway.
@John Cole: you don’t get it. He’s making the point that he pays taxes on the dividends every year BECAUSE HE GETS INCOME EVERY YEAR.
The truly amazing thing is that he’ll only pay 15% on the capital gains if he ever sells that AT&T stock (or any of its descendant baby bells, assuming that they don’t all merge each other out of existence.)
In Utah, in counties with smog inspection, you can get everything done at the smog-and-safety-inspection place. They charge ten or twenty bucks extra. I pay it, because (a) my time is worth something and (b) this way I don’t forget to do the other half.
Should five percent appear too small, be thankful they don’t take it all (yeah, they’re the taxman).
The prophet Nostradumbass
Sometimes the stupid comments here come from the blog owner.
your annual effective rate on your clunker is probably higher than the capital gains on a few shares of AT&T, bought in 1937, and passed down 2 (or 3) generations from the original owner, as a percentage of your gross annual income.
just a guess
gas taxes don’t work anymore because they never change and all those smuggie prius drivers are using up all the roads and not paying for them.
That’s why several states are looking at mileage taxes.
Wait. Worst Virginia has paved roads?
Is it a property tax? Is the tax based on car value? Or is this like when I lived in South Carolina and got a ticket in a speed trap. You go to the sheriffs office before your court date and give them money. It was entered in a ledger, in pencil and as long as you paid the sheriff or local cop in time it never went on your record. The sheriff kept it. This was by the way 40 yrs ago, don’t know what happens today.
@BillinGlendaleCA: Well…I did make a guy commit to paying $124,000 within 60 days the other day. But I was wearing sneakers. Take from that what you will. :)
I despise all the fee based taxes. They are all truly regressive. What’s worse is they simply remind you one more time that you are being forced to pay a horribly wasteful and dysfunctional government. Unlike gas or sales tax they are paid for “separately” and all at once. It’s like property taxes. Most folks get their notice, but don’t feel the true pinch, because it is incorporated into their mortgage payment. If you are fortunate enough to not have a mortgage, that bill every six months really packs a wallop.
People shouldn’t really bitch about income taxes. They think that if they get a big tax break that it translates into more take home pay. But in the long run it doesn’t. Sure its a nice temporary bump, but income is actually based on market principles, and that market is more of an after tax entity. So as time goes on the market creeps in. Your employer realizes he can give you smaller raises, or none at all, and your take home pay will still give you the same, or better buying power than you had before the tax cut. Or he can do things like increase your share of what you pay for health insurance, because you are receiving more after tax income. Believe me, knowing many small business owners, most do what they can to keep what their employees have to pay for insurance as low as possible, including increasing the share the company pays, and most consider actual net take home pay when considering compensation packages.
So, if the middle class had higher income taxes, the end result would be higher salaries and income, but basically the same net pay after adjusting for inflation.. Because employers would still be considering what to pay you based on net pay, and what kind of standard of living that salary provides for their employees.
In the long run, the people that benefit from low tax rates, and get hurt by high tax rates are the wealthy, because their income isn’t actually based on the same labor market as everyone else.
You have to look at taxes as a fixed cost. All things being equal, I don’t care if I’m paying a 60 percent rate or a 15 percent tax rate if at the end of the week I get the same amount that I am able to deposit in the bank. There is, however; one huge reason why I advocate income tax rates that are higher for the top 70 percent. While in the end it won’t affect the buying power of those people, it will in fact increase the standard of living. Why? because it would generate significantly more revenue for the federal government. The result will be more money for programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Less raiding of Social Security and thus less argument, no matter how erroneous for the cons to reduce or eliminate that program. The strength of our society’s safety net would be increased, which in turn would raise the country’s over all standard of living. Also important, higher rates would mean lots more cash to the state and local governments from Washington, which translates in less cuts in state services, and less need to make up new , or increase existing fees on things like car registrations and license fees, or on property taxes to supplement their revenues.
Also, if federal income taxes are relatively high on most people, then short term, (1-2 years,) large tax cuts for the middle class can have a serious stimulative effect on the economy during recessionary times, by providing more disposable income to increase consumer spending. If kept to a short time period the cuts won’t have enough time to cycle through the labor market, which would cause the results that I spoke of earlier regarding take home pay.
While there would be obvious inflationary issues to deal with, and in the short term significant tax hikes would be felt by most, (which is why it shouldn’t be done right now, with so many seriously struggling, and the economy needing all the stimulative juice it can get) in the long run the people that would actually feel the pinch would be the wealthy, and corporate profits. (Cause corporations are people, and I think that makes profits their children, which of course is why cons hate tax increases on corporations cause it the same thing as abortion, you see it kills those poor corporate profits at conception)
Yes it would be wealth redistribution, and I’m more than OK with that concept, considering how much of this nations wealth was redistributed to the top over the last 40 years, or five decades or two centuries the last two figured in the new math which I have decided to name base Cole. (JK Cole you actually named the year you bought your car so it seemed silly that people were jumping on your use of the term decades as a descriptive device)
@John Cole: A car is a good but it’s also pretty useless without the infrastructure that goes with it. Property taxes also pay for similar infrastructure – fire, police, schools, etc.
I still think your tax is stupidly administered, but your analogy is a poor one.
An aside: A number of years ago when CA was going through some auto insurance issues, the state considered adopting a scheme that would have eliminated individual policies, put a $.50 gal gas tax out to fund an insurance pool, and adopt a standard no-fault approach. Basically no administrative overhead to the market. Insurance costs would have been roughly proportional to miles driven, which is a decent base metric. Nobody can duck paying into the pool, including non-residents. Kind of a shame they didn’t try it.
@Martin: Single-payer car insurance? That’s like, fucking brilliant!
@Yutsano: Yeah, it really, really is. That would have been landmark had we done it.
The prophet Nostradumbass
@Martin: We also had single-payer health insurance on the ballot, and look how that went,
@The prophet Nostradumbass: Actually, it’s been passed, but Arnold vetoed it. There’s a plan to pass it again after Nov and have it properly tie in with PPACA. One challenge with passing it again is just how to deal with the funding when we’re still kind of fucked with the budgets. If the tax initiative passes, it should be good to go.
Taxed enough already!
OT: this wind map is too fucking cool to not share.
@Martin: Is that a vortex over Austin??
PS: that huge stream over eastern Washington is more or less constant. There are LOTS of wind generators sprouting up there but no major wind farms as of yet.
@eemom: THANK YOU!
The prophet Nostradumbass
@Martin: I was talking about the ballot initiative, Proposition 186.
So did everyone get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? I could barely make it through the first 25 comments; it’s no fun listening to comment after comment scolding Cole. Geez.
The prophet Nostradumbass
@WaterGirl: Oh come on, we’re just demonstrating how much we love the guy. Get with the program, lady.
John Cole: You have a pretty decent blog here, but MAN do you come off as a whiny conservative bitch!
My husband talks about personal property taxes on cars from when he lived in South Carolina. It was a graduated tax in that the more the car was worth, the higher the tax. He quickly figured out that expensive new cars were really expensive, and has concentrated on old cars with low mileage ever since. It helps me stay modest.
@The prophet Nostradumbass: Maybe I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, too?
Did Cole go to sleep or what?
I thought he was going to show up and yell at commenters again.
Not fun anymore. Except for a couple grammar scolds.
@Jeremy: Cole oscillates between communist and crypto glibertarian mole, spy and thug. You can never tell which it will be.
True but misleading. People don’t like paying taxes because it represents money that they could spend on other things from which they derive a more tangible and enjoyable benefit. If I didn’t have to pay taxes, I could use the money saved from that to pay off my credit cards. If I didn’t have any credit card bills, I could make a down payment on a new car. If I could get a free new car, I could use the money saved to take a cruise to the Bahamas. Ultimately, I don’t like paying taxes for the exact same reason that I don’t like paying for a new set of tires or for a new crown after my filling cracked — because it represents me having to spend my money on something necessary instead of something fun. Of course, since I a grown man instead of a selfish, Libertarian toddler, I pay for what’s necessary first and move on with my life.
I went to H&R Block to get my taxes done tonight, only to learn that even though the IRS doesn’t recognize my CA-pre-Prop-8 marriage, I’m apparently still supposed to add my income to my spouse’s and divide it for tax purposes. Sort of like if we were married filing separately. Of course, if we were married filing separately, I wouldn’t get taxed on the amount that my employer and I pay for my wife’s health insurance–usually that adds a hefty chunk to my annual gross income becayse it’s considered a taxable “fringe benefit”.
So basically, I’m not considered legally married by the federal government, except when I am.
Put me down as someone who’s not too sure you should pay this tax on your car, but who’s pretty sure you should pay a tax on your car.
Because that couch is nobody’s problem but yours unless your farts are more weaponizable then mine, but your old-assed clunker is a pain in everybody’s ass. High road wear, high emissions, generally high pain in everybody’s ass. Hell, you were offered a killer tax break to trade the beater in for a more fuel efficient model and apparently passed it up.
I’m basically cool with that if you’re Ok with chipping in your share, but, you know, there it is. Or, for that matter, I’m Ok with the notion that the “cash for clunkers” deal didn’t help out much for people who weren’t rich enough to buy a new car at the time, whatever sweeteners we threw into the deal. Still, we made an effort, half-assed as it was. Gotta give some kinda credit for that.
That said, I’ll grant that the way these taxes are laid out and collected is incoherent bullshit.
The prophet Nostradumbass
@Darkrose: That’s bullshit. Please go talk to a real accountant. You still have time, and you can even amend your returns later if you have to. Even a third-rater at least wants to impress you enough to get another couple of bucks from you next year, whereas H&R Block seriously does not give a shit and just wants you out of their office as quickly as possible.
Santorum’s slip is all over twitter and tumblr right now.
@Yutsano: Oh, you want an anti-IRS rant? I got one for you!
I don’t see how this can be legal. Either I’m married according to the IRS, or I’m not. This, “Your marital status depends on what will net us more money” thing is complete bullshit.
@dirge: Actually, it’s not bullshit–at least, not from H&R. I’d forgotten that this rule was put in place last year.
It’s especially egregious for us because my wife is on SSDI. On her own, she doesn’t make enough to have to pay taxes. If we could file as married/joint, it would be to our advantage, because our combined income isn’t that high for two people.
The IRS generously says that I don’t have to amend my tax returns prior to 2010. Honestly, if I’m going to get fucked up the ass, I’d like a little more lube than that.
Woops. Obama’s an anti-war nih, eh Rih?
Edit: Cool the edit box is fix0red!
@Darkrose: Look, as a rule this tax crap has a purpose and a point, and it’s designed to accomplish a goal. If you’re being hit with something transparently stupid there’s pretty decent chance that that’s actually a mistake and there’s a way for you to work around it.
That’s not to say that legislators don’t fuck up, because they absolutely do in occasionally spectacular ways, but as a rule the tax code is too damned complicated but very carefully designed. Chances are reasonably good that there’s a way to make it work for you only slightly more miserably than it works for everybody else.
Rarely-shown 1930 documentary covering the expedition and flight of Adm. Byrd over the South Pole about to begin on TCM network.
Been waiting all month for this one.
@handy: I just wish it had been Romney.
@Darkrose: your link to “rule put in place last year” took me to the entire page rather than a specific item, so I’m not sure what specifically you were referring to there.
I still suspect that a decent accountant can find you a halfway decent deal here, but I suppose I could be wrong about that.
I think he was just saying the president is a government near. He’s bringing the government nearer to hardworking Americans, or something.
@dirge: Oops; didn’t get the HTML right. It’s this bit:
Q-1: How do registered domestic partners determine their gross income for 2010?
A-1: Registered domestic partners must each report half the combined community income earned by the partners. In addition to half of the community income, a partner who has income that is not community income must report that separate income.
Q-2: Can registered domestic partners or same-sex spouses whose marriage is recognized under state law file federal tax returns using a married filing jointly or married filing separately status?
A-2: No. Registered domestic partners cannot file using a married filing separately or jointly filing status, because they are not spouses as defined by federal law. Likewise, same-sex partners who are married under state law may not file using a married filing separately or jointly filing status because federal law does not treat same-sex partners as spouses.
I’m reading that as, “we don’t recognize your marriage, but you still have to count your combined assets as community property because you’re married”.
Sure, almost all taxes could be better structured, but on this one I’ll side with McClaren in a second over Cole’s ridiculous rant.
For a minute I almost thought Antonin Scalia was guest posting on BJ. (Meaning — Cole’s whining sounds just about as ridiculous as Scalia’s idiotic broccoli test.)
@Darkrose: Ah. I think I now understand where you’re getting screwed there. Makes sense, in it’s twisted way.
So you’d be better off if you were formally “married” but California has you as “domestic partners” which can’t really file jointly.
Frankly, I’d be pretty tempted, were I you, to go ahead and file “married, filing jointly” with the IRS at least, if not with CA as well, then see if they really want to pick a fight about it. Pretty sure they don’t, because differential taxation is absolutely their weakest link on this stuff.
On the other hand, giving the IRS reasons to pick a fight is not something one does lightly.
Hey John, I resent you mentioning a Spleen in your post. I have a good friend that nearly died due to a perforated spleen!
Of course he weighs 140lb soaking weight and I’m 6’2″ and 250 and he made the horrendous mistake of jumping on my back while we were both pretty drunk.
Gravity and a concrete patio nearly resulted in his death if it weren’t for my friend who works for a hospital.
All I remember was the group (myself included) visiting him in the E.R. a few hours later while he told us that “they stuck something in my penis!”
I demand a non-apology for something that has no bearing on your original post!
For me it’s property taxes. Car taxes make sense, for the reasons that mclaren stated. But my house is just sitting there. I live out in the country, and have NO city services. No streetlights, no garbage collection, no local police force…nothing. I’ve seen the breakdown that the county sends out, showing me where my money goes. There is not one thing on that entire list that actually benefits my household.
And yet, I pay $1800 a year to the county, where most of it subsidizes the three larger towns in my county.
Now THAT pisses me off.
So, here’s what you do:
You transfer ownership of the motor vehicle to an out-of-state friend and have the friend lease the car back to you at $1 per year.
If you don’t own the car, you don’t pay the tax.
Of course, that had better be a very good friend.
And, this is just tongue-in-cheek because (I’m sure) the state will take the position that if a West Virginia plate is on the car, the tax applies no matter who owns it.
Still, it’s all a matter of perspective and the tax is very probably being used for a practical purpose (like traffic safety).
Really? Some of you are bringing up “broccoli” ??
I side with John Cole on this one – re-read what he specifically said and then calm down and see that he makes a lot of sense.
Our taxes at the state and local level are weird, and have gotten more so over the last 20 years. I live in NY, so we had Governor Pataki who found all sorts of non-tax “fees” to add into the system. That way he could honestly claim he wasn’t raising taxes, but the state still pulled in more money, and meantime these “fees” didn’t always really make sense – as John points out, it isn’t the amount, it’s what they are levied against.
I think that too many of you who disagree are jumping the gun – “uh oh, John’s reverting to his old self again”, when he’s just asking for more clarity, and a connection between taxes that he’s perfectly willing to pay and the actual expenses that he imposes on the state.
You do sound like an ignorant Teahadist, Mr. Cole.
They charge you less money on an old car then a new one. If it was a flat tax you would be paying more money.
Otherwise, Mr. Mclaren is 100% dead on and you sound like a whiny old bitch.
The last thing anyone who believes in stronger. more progressive government, should be doing is to bitch about taxes in an election year.
IS THIS HOW YOU HELP SPREAD THE IDEA THAT TAXES ADD VALUE???
I mean really. Not only do you not understand why you are taxed, you are complaining for a solution that would cost you more in taxes.
Pull your head out of your ass, before you type. If your not sure you got your head out of your ass, pull harder.
I’m amazed at the number of otherwise intelligent folks posting here who have completely missed how regressive the car tax is. We have it in Rhode Island. Junkers are routinely valued at three to four times their resale price, and often more (I recently traded my VW with 250K miles on it for $800; the taxable value last year was $6500). This means that the guy who’s been driving his car for the last fifteen or twenty years and is just getting by is paying a disproportionate share vis a vis folks driving late model cars.
The state needs my money? Fine, I can afford it. But put it in my real estate tax or bump the income tax above the stupid low levels they’re at. Don’t crush the guys living paycheck to paycheck.
Oh great! John is giving our overlords new ideas about taxing our household items.
Thanks John. Thanks a lot.
I don’t know what the auto tax mill rates are in W. Va., but you should see them in Connecticut, where I used to live. A relatively new auto with a typical value of $30k or so will cost $1000 or more in property taxes initially, and decline only slowly. This probably approaches a typical residential property tax bill in W. Va.
And RI: The real estate tax rate is $30/$1000, while the auto tax is $76/1000. Living in Providence, with our “homestead exemption” that immediately cuts our property tax rate in half, we’re going to be paying $6500 in real estate taxes on a $400K+ home, and about $1800 in car taxes on two cars with a combined value of about $35000.
This strikes anyone around here–Bueller? Bueller?–as how a fair society works?
I think this has got to be one of the more regressive taxes ever. If you have a beemer, the tax probably isn’t any problem, but if you drive a wreck, $100 seems like a penalty for actually keeping a car beyond the time where you can trade it in, and at that point you’re paying more to drive it than to just junk it, and add tax to that? It’s poor people or people who live in places with no reliable mass transit (often one and the same) who are really being penalized by a tax like this.
It also seems like an incentive to trade in a car before it gets too old. If you have to pay a yearly tax, you might as well pay it on something that is worth the hassle of upkeep. So it may be a hidden subsidy to car dealers as well.
This premise is untrue.
@dirge: Cash for Clunkers would not have covered a 1998 Subie.
John, I love you but I’m with the majority here. In fact I think all car-related taxes should be way higher. Mass transit infrastructure isn’t great in most places, but the more people use it the better the arguments for making it better. Most trips are within a mile of home. People who are able-bodied enough should get a bike and use it – you’d be complaining less about both your weight and that tax if you did. Turns an annoying errand into a joy, if you’ve got a comfortable bike. And you can take a bus or an electric-powered scooter-to-bus/train whatever, and never have to pay that tax. I wonder if you posted this as bait to us readers – definitely got the comments going, on a topic people care about!
As much as I don’t like the car tax in Missouri & think it makes no sense, I’m far more concerned about all the money going to empire, the drug war, and propping up corporate capitalism.
Yeah, I’m all right with paying taxes, too, but I get a little pissy about the mortgage interest deduction this time of year.
We don’t get that deduction because we rent. We rent because we live in one of the few places in the country that was unscathed by the housing crash (DC burbs), and we just don’t have the sick amount of money it takes to buy a house here.
But every fucking year, TurboTax compiles my information and, before it lets me file, it asks, “are you SURE you didn’t buy or sell a home last year?”
I know its just bad tax policy, but I feel like it is casting judgment. I know! I’m married with two kids and not impoverished, I’m supposed to own a house!
You come up with 20% down on half a million dollars, then get back to me, you TurboTax assholes.
I haven’t read all the comments here, so I apologize if someone has already addressed this, but the tax I find most anoying is the(Maine) state “use” tax, which basically purports to make me pay Maine sales tax on everything (they presume) I have bought out of state that year. I am supposed to attach documentation of every out of state or internet purchase, then, for mysterious reasons, pay Maine sales tax on them. (They already get you on a big item like a car — if you buy it out of state you must pay Maine sales tax when you register it.) If I can’t prove where every nickle of my income went, the State gives me the option to pay a flat percentage based on my income, which of course assumes I consume out-of-state products in whatever degree they have concluded I must. I’m with Cole in generally having no problem with taxes as the price we pazy for civilization, but this one is so petty and annoying that it’s, well, annoying.
Maybe you can think of it as an annual tax to use the road? The couch doesn’t go outside (I hope) and use the roads putting wear and tear. The car does. ‘Course that may not make you feel better.
@kilkee: Also, too, consider me annoyed.
@Henry Bayer: NC for a while had an ‘intangibles tax’, which was a tax on wealth similar to the property tax. It has been kicked out – unconstihushonal stealing from wealthy people.
Somehow I doubt Cole has the wherewithal and the patience to take it to court and get it thrown out. The rich are patient and take offense even more than Cole does.
@Lori: “Most trips are within a mile of home.”
I wish. My area gets a zero for walkability.
I just renamed it the annual County Road User Fee. There, problem solved!
@RedKitten: You know what else doesn’t make any sense? “Property.”
Think about the chain of “ownership” of the land that you claim as “yours.” It’s not that it was almost certainly stolen from an indigenous group by either the state or federal government (because the native Americans didn’t “own” the land either), it’s that you are able to purchase it with the understanding that the state will have your back if some douchebag squats on it or tells you to fuck off. You can’t put too high a price on that kind of security, so do not pretend that your property tax is senseless or useless: you are paying for the security apparatus. The alternatives to this are fantasies like Galt Gulch or realities like Somalia.
The most economically free country in the world (according to the wingnuts who measure that sort of thing at the Heritage Foundation) is Hong Kong. You can’t buy or own land there — you can only lease it from the government (usually on 30-year leases). This generates a LOT of revenue for the state, and so taxes (generally corporate and business taxes) are low.
I lost patience at comment 93 to see if someone else pointed this out but it doesn’t matter how old your car is. If you drive a car on the road, we have to have traffic police and traffic courts or else its mad max anarchy. We’ve had good road civilization so long we take it for granted but it doesn’t just happen by itself and it does cost money. So we pay a tax to cover that cost beyond just the roads being paved. Even if you aren’t driving a car, there are administrative costs in making sure for instance that people aren’t faking non use and driving around without insurance (which can leave other people injured with no recourse).
@John Cole: How about your home taxes? You purchased that years ago, amirite?
Cheryl from Maryland
@moderateindy: Totally agree.
The rationale behind fee based taxes (only what you actually use is taxed) is wrong — everyone uses roads, if only because that’s the way food gets to the market.
Fee based taxes are also slippery — sometimes people add them up, sometimes people react to personal property taxes as John does, but they are an act of cowardice as the hope is that people don’t calculate the entire bill.
They are also generally the same across the board, which is regressive — I have to pay the same car registration fee as someone with a Lambo?
So I am happy to be in Maryland, where your local government is funded by an income tax which is a percentage of your state income tax, and it is withheld from your paycheck so you pay it bit by bit and not all at once.
I like this comment, but I think it misses a small point. While most trips are within a mile of your home, owning a car is still a necessity even if you live in a highly bikeable community. Over the summer, I worked in Richmond, VA and biked to and from work everyday, but I still needed the car if I had to stock up on bulk groceries or get something I couldn’t easily carry back on the bike or by the city bus.
I don’t read this as John not wanting to pay a tax – in fact his entire post is pretty much the opposite of that – it’s the tax being illogical. I don’t mind paying the tax at all, even when I bike more than I drive, but I would much rather it be oriented around how much I drive (like reading the mileage at my annual inspection and then just taxing me accordingly).
Also, and I can only speak to the Hampton Roads area of VA, if the pols here proposed funneling a car tax to fund transportation I think there would actually be an armed insurrection. Norfolk just got light rail last year, mostly funded by federal dollars, and even non-Norfolk residents consider it an affront to all that is good and decent in the world.
I’m sort of with Cole on this one. We get nickel and dimed to death, and it helps when a tax is logical. …But I also used to feel the same way about having to license my dog. I mean, I kept him inside all the time or on a leash, so why should the city use his place in my household as an occasion to tax me? I felt that way until he escaped/went on walkabout 3 times in 6 months and the local cops took him to the SPCA with a smile each time. Talk about value for money.
I’m with Cheryl…car taxes (aka personal property taxes) are just another way for states to get revenue in more hidden ways than the income tax. I’ve lived in 3 states with it and 2 without it. At least in Colorado when I lived there 11 years ago, the tax dwindled down to close to nothing when your car hit 10 years old. Of course, there is no incentive to buy a new car under this system.
“Oh, good lord. Your grandfather is most certainly not taxed for simply owning shares of AT&T stock. No one who owns stocks is simply taxed on them for the simple fact they own them like they own a car. Stocks are taxed on capital gains, in the case that they, get this, make CAPITAL GAINS. If those stocks depreciated in value (LIKE MY CAR DOES EVERY YEAR), they most certainly would not be subject to capital gains taxes.”
Yeah I knew the stock one would piss you off and thought about removing it because you were having a bad day already. Sorry for leaving it up.
Take a minute to consider, though, that my comment may not be stupid — it may be brilliant! Genius even!! :) No, seriously. Genius.
My point is not that there is no difference between AT&T stock and a car! Because obviously duh duh duh there is. If you think I didn’t see that then yeah duh I’m a moron.
I was just wondering whether you might not want to think about being a little more clear about *why* you’re so upset about paying the taxes. It can’t be because you bought the car years ago — because in that sense you’re no different from my grandfather with his stock.
So why is it?
Is it because you don’t use the car much? In which case Mitt Romney (or insert other rich person) shouldn’t be taxed on that seventeenth house he didn’t visit last year?
Is it because the car isn’t worth much? In that case there should be no taxes on things that have little value? This one at least makes sense. Maybe that’s the reason.
Just trying to help your rant have a little more intellectual focus and coherence. That’s all.
Ooh, lookee at fancy Squire Cole, lordin’ it around in ‘is lar-de-dar automobile!
Seriously, I may be wrong, but I think many taxes like these are remnants of the time when only the rich (and the local doctor) had a car. Yeah, they probably could raise the revenue in a better way, but that would mean dealing with all the voices that screech whenever taxes are even discussed.
I’m a tax preparer & my “entertainment” this year is comparing my client’s effective tax rate with with Mitt’s.
@Luthe: You mention something in passing, but it’s pretty damned important. Renters absolutely do pay property taxes. They don’t do it directly, but I guarantee that the cost of taxes is one of the things figured into the rent.
and then you go on to say it’s not punitive.
I agree with the thrust of your post. Except in the case of cigarettes where at least in my state, it’s at least 2/3 of the cost of a pack of cigarettes. $9 a pack here.
Now, I like the fact that my state uses these punitive taxes to fund medical for kids, BUT – you’d think my state (being a bastion of the liberalism that it is) would be sort of, you know, against punitive regressive taxation (the numbers say teh poors smoke far more often than other folks). Anyone who has ever been seriously addicted to anything realizes that this doesn’t dissuade current smokers, but rather just serves to make their addiction even more horribly expensive. Pot is nearly cheaper at this point
Anyway screw it – until I finally manage to kick the habit, my smokes come from moldova @ 2.90 a pack. Instead of $9
That’s the only area where the taxation to me is galling and punitive.
Is John really being attacked over this? Really? Because he had the gall to say one tax, one specific tax is dumb? This makes him a teahadist? Some of you guys are straight parodies of yourselves.
IN the overall scheme of things, the regressivity of sales and use taxes is offset to a degree by things like the earned income credit.
If your seven percent sales tax in Indiana pisses you off, don’t move to California (sales tax rates as high as 8.75 percent) or Ireland (21 percent VAT).
Now that I see that John pays both registration fees and taxes on his car, I’m more with him. On the other hand, every state has their own way to try to get revenue. A vehicle tax is probably not that regressive. Poor people own no car, less poor people own cars not worth a whole lot, and the richest people own fucking expensive cars. I’d still rather have a slightly higher income tax than pay a vehicle tax.
@Martin: I’m not so sure that would have been a great approach. One-size fits all doesn’t really work with car insurance. If I have some POS that might be worth $500 all I want is liability coverage. On the other hand, if I get a brand new car, I want to make sure it’s completely covered. Doing this sounds pretty regressive.
I don’t pay jack for taxes on my car.
It’s a 93 camry, we are the 2nd owners. First one was an old couple.
They donated to our church (a 501(3)c) who then preceded to gift it to my wife and I as a wedding present.
We pay nothing in tabs. I think we pay less than it costs to make the tabs. heh.
I guess I shouldn’t bitch so much about the cigarettes.
@Ron: See my comments at 166 and 169. You couldn’t be more wrong about an auto tax not being that regressive.
This would piss me off too. I’m as pro-tax as they come, but I have no problem saying that I really wish the entire process were more user-friendly. In fact, I’ve ranted about this before.
But I don’t agree with this statement:
It’s not my money. There’s no such thing as “my money”, at least not in any meaningful fashion. Money is a construct of our society–it has no meaning or value outside that construct. It’s our society’s money; I’m just using it for a while.
@slag: I can so totally get behind that sentiment.
In WA when buying a used car, they have a registration tax which is based on blue book – the estimated costs of repairs (to bring it up to par with a blue-book condition car)
All I have to say about that is that befriending a mechanic can save you a load of dough.
I got about half of the estimated blue-book value eliminated for a mercedes I bought awhile back – saved me some change.
Death Panel Truck
You’s gettin’ taken, Cole. In the state of Washington I can buy the licenses for both my Subaru Outback and my Suzuki Boulevard M50 bike for $100 – with $13 to spare.
John M. Burt
@Citizen_X: Three decades? Two centuries? No, my friend, a 1997 car is one which spans two millennia!
Actually, though, I think a tax on the value of all material property is a pretty good idea.
Wrong. It’s actually pretty easy.
“My money” is money given to me in a competitive market for making a contribution to production.
“Not my money” is economic rent given to me due to an advantage often if not always handed out by the government. Land rent, for example. The absurd privileges given to the FIRE sector is another.
@John M. Burt:
While there are merits to a “flat tax” that would fall on net wealth, and some wealth lies in material property, as a whole taxing material property in general instead of particular types of property has the economics all wrong.
For example, take housing. The structure itself is something nature didn’t put there and is not in fixed supply. The return to it (i.e., “self rent” if you own your own place, “rent” if you rent it out) is earned.
The land, OTOH, is completely different. Nature put it there. The value of a particular parcel is something the owner contributed nothing to. The return to it is completely unearned, as economists have understood since Ricardo and perhaps even Smith.
Taxing the house itself might not be a terrible thing, but it’s not clear it’s a good thing. Taxing the land (per value, of course, not per acreage) is an excellent thing. It’s both equitable and efficient. A complete win-win (except for current landholders, of course.)
A house is entirely different from a car. It sits on land, a fixed resource whose value you didn’t create. By owning the land, the government is granting you the privilege of excluding anyone else from using it, even though you didn’t create it, nor did the person you bought it from, nor the person they bought it from, and so on. You should have to pay for that privilege.
Huh? People certainly say all the time that their property taxes should be cut, or the rate cut, etc. Not the same as “no more,” but not all that different.
Car tax is a “last resort tax” used in jurisdictions where it’s difficult to raise other taxes. It’s critical in CA, for example.
@dr. bloor: That’s an implementation issue. There’s no reason inherent to the tax that cars should be routinely misvalued.
pseudonymous in nc
I’m happy with a flat use tax — or the British model, where there’s a stepped scale based on emissions. Combine that with a sensible tax rate on gasoline, and you cover both mileage and efficiency.
Having a county property tax based on assessed value, as well as the annual sticker renewal fee, which is how it’s done in NC, seems weird and somewhat arbitrary.
I also just paid my Motor Vehicle Licence money, although my Income is too small to attract Income Tax.
It cost me R375 (divide by 7)for my car, a Nissan of 1990 vintage, a car that my insurer says “Don’t bother to insure – it’s not worth anything”.
Roads etc. are paid for by the taxes on petrol – this is specific to my jalopy and, hell yes, I resent it.
@John Cole: The reason you pay more for your older vehicle is because the taxes are based on the weight of the vehicle; not its age or how many miles you drive it. The older one weighs more, so it does more damage to the roads. @mclaren is correct.