Should the state motor vehicle tax be eliminated?


(WTNH) — The money you pay in motor vehicle taxes to own a car in Connecticut varies wildly depending on what town you live in. There is a proposal on the table before lawmakers SB 1105 which would get rid of the tax altogether.

But shifting the burden is a non-starter for some. How much is your car tax bill? A Prius parked in Hartford believe it or not has a higher tax bill than a Ferarri parked in Westport.

State Senator Will Haskell a Democrat from Westport is a sponsor of the bill: “How could we possibly defend the owner of a Prius living in Senator Fonfara’s district (Hartford) would have to pay hundreds more than the owner of a Ferrari for example in my district.”

Though capped at 45-mills, the motor vehicle tax around the state can be set lower by local leaders. This creates a disparity to the point some state lawmakers say people register their cars in other towns, or states to avoid paying a higher tax.

“Some cities in this state see such a widespread evasion that they have to hire a private investigators,” testified Sen. Haskell.

His proposal would erase the state car tax and shift the burden to property owners over a five-year time frame.

Most towns assess tax liability on homes and commercial space based on 70-percent of the value.

Haskell and other Democratic lawmakers on the Finance Revenue and Bonding committee say increasing that calculation to 80-percent would make up for the lost tax revenue from vehicles.

Not so fast, say some Republicans.

State Representative Tammy Nuccio a Republican from Tolland suggested, “If we were to allowed by town, okay this town is 70, this town is 72, this town is 100-percent, wouldn’t we be creating an environment where people would pick and choose where they want to live depending on the tax burden?”

Haskell said he would be in favor of letting local leaders chose the tax liability calculation. But offered that’s what we currently have. He recommended a standard percentage across the board.

Connecticut Conference of Municipalities testified it’s an unfair tax shift that creates winners and losers.

Randy Collins a policy Director at CT Conference of Municipalities testified, “If you have commercial entities that operate high commercial fleets -Thinking Amazon, FedEx, they will have a significant reduction in their taxable liability.”

CCM – represents mayors and first selectmen in just about every community in the state. He says they will be forced to make up for nearly $1 billion in lost motor vehicle tax revenues.

Chair of the Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee State Senator John Fonfara a Democrat from Hartford took issue with the special interest groups testimony. Saying he was disappointed their members wouldn’t come to the table for the betterment of the state. “I don’t know what happens to mayors when they become mayors. The people… they just care about revenue, the hell with everything else.”

A former town leader, State Senator Paul Formica the Republican Deputy Minority Leader fired back.

“As a former first selectman, I find your comments out of line. All we do as mayors and first selectmen are work seven days a week to try to better the community.”

Hartford State Sen. Fonfara went on to clarify he thinks all cities and towns are run well. He has an issue when interest groups stand in the way of change. It’s unclear whether the idea will get out of committee.

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