Saturday, March 24, 2007

Stickin' It To The Man

If you look under the hood of any vehicle, there will be some sort of emission control certificate verifying that said vehicle was manufactured to air quality standards required of all new cars sold in the United States.

California has even stricter standards than the feds require, and this will also be attested to with the little certificate also stating the car was manufactured to California standards, if it is indeed the case.

Back in the early 90's, in an attempt to collect even more money from citizens, California instituted a levy on all out of state 'non-California' vehicles being registered within its borders. It was passed off, and titled accordingly, as a 'smog impact fee'. This one-time fee was set at $300.

Immediately, some taxpayer watchdog group, I cant remember who, filed a challenge to the new tax, and after about 5 yrs, it was thrown out by the United States Supreme Court, at least I think it was the Supreme Court,(anyway, that's an unimportant detail, and I'm too lazy to fact check it)... as an unconstitutional tax on interstate commerce and free flow of people across state lines,yadda,yadda,yadda...
As a result, California was required to reimburse all those who had registered out of state vehicles within the period of time the tax was in effect, and who had supposedly paid this illegal tax.
The catch: the owner who had registered one of these cars had to apply for the reimbursement. The state was, wrongly in my opinion, not required to track down and notify it's victims of its evil deeds. The burden was on the victim to learn about and press his claim.

I previously mentioned my past ownership of a Geo Metro. I purchased this car from somebody else who had purchased it, also used, from somebody in Ohio, where the car was originally sold. After driving the car to California, he promptly sold it to me without re-registering it first. I was required to pay this tax when I registered the car before the state would issue me California plates.
The clerk at the registration desk, after informing me of my fees, and my requirement to pay this particularly evil one, goofed. She forgot to collect this extra $300 from me! And inadvertantly also proving what I'd always suspected: that government employees aren't necessarily the best and brightest among us.(keep this in mind when you start thinking gov't run health care might be a good idea).

Being eminently smarter than the lowest-common-denominator-type-person who works for the government, I kept my mouth shut, wrote her a check, grabbed my plates and paperwork, and quickly gotthehellouttathere.

About a year and half later, I read about the overturning of this illegal taxation perpetrated upon the people, and how the victims of this evil can receive restitution.

Sensing I had nothing to lose...
I filed my claim.
And was reimbursed, by the State of California, for taxes I never paid in the first place.