car taxes

State Leaders Address Drivers' Motor Vehicle Tax Bill Complaints

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We’re all feeling the pain at the pump. But for some drivers, their most recent motor vehicle tax bill is adding another punch.

Lots of folks have called NBC Connecticut or commented on our posts frustrated that their bill has gone up this year, despite promised tax breaks.

Assessors are getting a lot of complaints, too. Tax cuts capped mill rates in more than 70 communities.

State leaders say these breaks are making a big dent, but municipalities could have done more to help.

It's important to remember that what you pay in your motor vehicle tax bill also depends on the value of your car.

Used car values have gone through the roof, causing an increase in some bills, according to Tom DeNoto, Connecticut Association of Assessing Officers president.

Municipalities use the National Automobile Dealers Association guide to get those car values.

“I'm shocked. More than surprised. That's why I bought a pre-owned car,” said Geri Martin of Ellington.

Martin said she still can’t believe her eyes when she saw the tax bill for her 2016 Honda Civic. It went up about $50 from last year.

“I'm paying more tax than I did when I bought the car, so I'm trying to figure that out because I worked with finance and spreadsheets and that math doesn't calculate to my liking,” Martin said.

State law has implemented a different method for evaluation next year based on a depreciation schedule, but for now, Martin’s Civic was estimated at a value of $11,480. Last year's bill, it was worth $10,300.

And to add insult to injury, Ellington’s mill rate actually increased this year, too.

“I got to pay the bill. I'm so frustrated. I think I'm going to pay them with two checks just because I'm aggravated,” Martin said.

When we asked state leaders about drivers’ complaints, they’re adamant tax cuts helped defray costs overall.

It’s local municipalities that could have done more to help drivers.

“Whatever you pay for your local car tax is set by your local authority,” explained Jeffrey Beckman, secretary of the Office of Policy and Management.

“They could have adjusted the mill rates, so they didn’t have higher taxes," Beckman said.

State leaders say drivers' bills could have been even higher without the tax breaks approved by the General Assembly.

Mill rates were capped in these specific communities to help keep down costs.

“We’ve provided $100 million in tax relief in terms of automobiles, it certainly saved a lot of people a lot of money, not in every town, in towns with a certain mill rate, and I think that’s what the important message is,” Governor Ned Lamont said.

“I’d like to get rid of this car tax at some point, but in the meantime, we’re making them a lot more palatable for more people and I think in those 70 towns almost all of them have a reduction," he continued.

You can appeal your assessment. Another option, selling your car.

While the tax bill may be tough to swallow, check your assessment. It may mean your car is literally worth that much more right now.

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