Face the Facts: Motor Vehicle Tax Bills Are Up – Is Another Increase Preventable?

Thomas DeNoto, president of the CT Association of Assessing Officers, breaks down why some people saw an increase in their motor vehicle tax bills, and how new legislation should prevent it from happening again.

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We've heard from a number of people who are not happy about these higher car tax bills.

NBC Connecticut's Mike Hydeck spoke with the president of the Connecticut Association of Assessing Officers Thomas DeNoto. He is also the assessor for the City of Bristol.

Mike Hydeck: "So the mill rates, they were capped in more than 70 communities across our state, that was the governor's plan, including Bristol, where you're the assessor, with the hope of providing some kind of tax relief. In your opinion, overall did it provide any relief on property taxes?"

Thomas DeNoto: "Oh, yes, definitely. You have to understand that this isn't the first time that we've had a cap. We have jurisdictions in the State of Connecticut that have a mill rate that's above what the previous cap was, which was 45 mils. So the current cap is a substantial decrease from that cap, which is 32.46 mills."

Mike Hydeck: "So it's obvious that market forces are making an impact here. Car taxes are set by cities and towns, not the state. So yesterday in that same news conference you heard the governor, the OPM secretary said this week that municipalities could have adjusted their mill rate or used federal money to try to offset some of the spikes. How do you respond to that?"

Thomas DeNoto: "Well, one of the things that the Connecticut Association of Assessing Officers is not a part of is a budgetary process. So that's primarily the responsibility of our comptrollers and our finance departments, or to finance at the local level, from the elected officials standpoint, and ultimately, the elected administration. The task for the Connecticut Association of Assessing Officers is to follow the Connecticut general statutes that mandate how it is that we value motor vehicles. In this case, it's the National Automobile Dealers Association guide, that is recommended to the Office of Policy and Management by the Connecticut Assessor Association, so that it's equitably valued across the entire state. And that's one of the provisions that this legislature tried to accomplish by capping the millage rate at that 32.46 level. Ultimately, it hopefully hinders people from trying to shop municipalities when it comes to mill rates. But ultimately, the mill rate is a budgetary process. We just want to fairly value the vehicle."

Mike Hydeck: "And we heard that next year, possibly the state is going to have a straight line depreciation figured in, so you know, it's not going to go up and down as much. Does that sound right to you?"

Thomas DeNoto: "It does sound right, the initial review of the legislation is that it'll use manufacturer's suggested retail price or MSRP, and it'll use a straight line depreciation factor off of that initial value. So ultimately, we're in the same proving grounds with respect to how it is that we're valuing the vehicle. But hopefully what it does is it moderates and it keeps a value at a consistent level rather than showing these market fluctuations."

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