I read with interest your very flawed July 7 Maine Sunday Telegram  story on “Why Maine license plates jam out of state highways.” Vehicle registration costs in Maine are actually outrageous as compared to other states.

In Maine, as a resident, you can not register a vehicle without first paying the excise tax-which by definition is a “use tax”-presumable a tax we pay for using our roads-you know the ones laced with potholes and broken pavement (but that’s for another day).

Did you know that Maine has the 7th highest excise tax on a vehicle in the entire country? And it is a very flawed system as it is based on MSRP (not what you paid for the vehicle) vs miles driven or vehicle weight which clearly have the greatest impact in terms of wear and tear on our roads. Worse, think about the initial and annual costs to buy and register a car in our state. For example, on a $30,000 car, the sales tax (5.5 percent) is $1,650, the license plate fee is $35 and the first year vehicle excise tax is $720 so your cost to put that new $30,000 car on the road is really $2,405. While you only pay the sales once, you’ll pay that excise tax every year you own the car. Even after year six, you’ll be paying $120 (plus the $35 license plate fee).

And if you sell it, the new buyer will continue to pay the $120 as well.

It’s time to fix our flawed excise tax situation. Before the Legislature and the governor react to your article and decide to increase our registration fees (which you construe as “hard to beat”), think about the total cost of registration and why so many Mainers register their cars in NH, Florida or the other 43 states that have a lower (and in many cases) a fairer excise tax system.

Bob Vautin


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