by The Peripatetic Pundit | 6:56 pm, July 10, 2009 | Comments Off
In what might be the understatement of the week (if not the entire month), even the frequently big-government-friendly Denver Post editorial board recognized that the introduction of vastly increased vehicle registration taxes – er, ”important new fees… was marred by negative public reaction.”
Seldom has a “state tax policy change (er, fee increase) … resulting in a net tax revenue increase to any district” elicited such a sharp and widespread response. Apparently, it’s one thing to illegally and unconstitutionally increase property taxes on homes, but raising taxes – as much as 600% – on people’s vehicles REALLY hits ‘em where they live.
Colorado citizens are hopping mad – and in many cases, just plain refusing to pay, particularly for second vehicles, motorcycles, and trailers that see only occasional use, or have sat in storage for some time. The provision stirring the greatest protest and anger – the up to $100 “late” fee – even comes in for fire in yesterday’s aforementioned Denver Post editorial (“Roll back state’s vehicle late fees“).
“The penalties for late payment, which are separate from the higher registration fees, stirred up a lot of anger among Coloradans earlier this month. That anger is understandable…”
Even Bill Ritter is feeling the pressure, responding to voter anger by throwing out a sop attempting to defuse the issue (Ritter willing to tweak auto-registration fee) – but, as the article notes, “The offer is to adjust late penalties only for nonmotorized vehicles” – i.e. trailers (why even register those, anyway?).
Judging by various news reports, and even more so by the comments to the editorial, Ritter’s proposal is unlikely to deflect voter anger. A substantial number of Colorado citizens are engaging in tax protest by refusing to pay the late fees, declining to register their vehicles and either leaving them off the roads, or running the risk of getting ticketed. Ritter’s unjust law is creating a whole new class of scofflaws from otherwise law-abiding citizens.
Ironically, the FASTER tax (er, fees) may end up being counterproductive in terms of the primary stated goals: increasing revenues for Colorado’s roads and bridges (a laudable intent). As more and more people protest the unjust taxes (er, fees – sorry!) by refusing to register their vehicles (out of principle, or out of inability to pay the inflated rates), collected revenues may actually decline. Anecdotally, I know several people that went to register motorcycles or second vehicles, were willing to pay registration fees (even at several hundred dollars apiece) but balked at the “late” fees for their seldom-used vehicles. That’s several hundreds of dollars – just from personal knowledge – NOT collected, because the governor (and primary legislative sponsor Joe Rice) wanted to nickle and dime Colorado citizens – the very definition of “penny wise, pound foolish” and typical of “gouge the rich” (heck, gouge the taxpayer, period) tax schemes.
Contact Bill Ritter and Joe Rice and let them know how you feel about their car tax (fee! fee! so sorry) scheme – and meanwhile, exercise your right of protest and civil disobedience by refusing to pay up until the “late” fee provision is repealed (er, “rolled back”).
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