Time for a major rant!
This little doozy has been gnawing at me for over 4 months, ever since I purchased my new to me, but definitely used handicap accessible van, and got charged $800 sales tax by the State of Maine for handicap equipment that had already been taxed once before!
INCREDIBLE! RIDICULOUS! OUTLANDISH! How could the very state I live in hold out their greedy little fingers and tax me just because I’m disabled?
Let me explain…
Earlier this summer I finally made the decision to get a new handicap accessible van. When I say new I mean slightly used/new to me, because there’s no way in hell I’m going to pay $60,000+ for an overpriced handicap accessible van that is little more than a $25,000 van with a lowered floor and foldout ramp. I started looking used, and called the two handicap vehicle dealers in Maine only to find they’re equally proud of their used inventory and charge $40,000+ for a low mileage 3-4-year-old van. So, I turned to eBay and got looking, finally after a few months finding the perfect van from a private seller. Just to make sure I was getting a deal, I told the two handicap van dealers exactly what they were competing against, a 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan Braun Entervan XT conversion with 25,807 miles, 3,168 miles on the conversion for $27,000. Their response, knowing that I was a very real buyer ready to go today, was $35,900 for a van with 8,000 more miles. NOT LIKELY!
After several emails back and forth, learning that the seller had purchased the van just months before, and was only selling because his father had more quickly than expected passed away from a degenerative disease, I became comfortable enough to buy the van sight unseen. So I committed to the deal, sent my sister and her husband south on the Amtrak to southern Connecticut, and made the biggest vehicle purchase of my life without even rolling wheel into the van.
And what a great deal I got! Upon making the very long journey to Northern Maine, and arriving on my front doorstep I saw this absolutely beautiful red van. Like amazingly perfect, still smell the new car smell inside, holy cow I have the absolute awesomeness of new vehicles! YAY!
Now onto the tax stuff…
I soon figured out what an incredible deal that I got! The people who sold me this van provided me with their original receipt showing the following:
Used Vehicle Price: $15,300
Conversion Price: $21,700
The sales tax in Pennsylvania, where the van was originally registered, is 6% which came to $918.00. In Pennsylvania they only charge sales tax for the purchase price of the vehicle.
Now on to the Maine Department of Motor Vehicle I arrive at the DMV with all my paperwork, including this previous registration, and a further breakdown showing that of the $27,000 I paid for my new van only 41% of that, $11,000 was for the actual vehicle, and the rest, $16,000, for the handicap conversion part of the purchase price. You think they gave a crap about that?!? Heck no, The State of Maine wanted me to pay sales tax on the entire $27,000.
I said that’s ridiculous and nicely pointed out how foolish it was to the DMV attendant. She agreed, but said there was nothing she could do, but there was a phone number in Augusta I could call. So I got out of line, called that number and again was told I had to pay taxes on the entire purchase price. I talked to this lady in Augusta about how ridiculous this was, how I was being forced to pay taxes on handicap accessible equipment that had already been taxed once before, and she not so sincerely said… “Sorry, that’s just the way it is.”
Outraged, I left the DMV without registering my vehicle and made a number of phone calls. I called Maine AlphaOne, the state of Maine Law Library, one of my friends who is heavily involved in state politics, and researched the Internet. And what did I find, but Legislative Document 447 “An Act to Exempt from Sales Tax the Sales of Adaptive Equipment To Make a Vehicle Handicapped Accessible” which was proposed in 2003 by the 121st Maine Legislator.
Fiscal Detail and Notes
This bill expands the sales tax exemption to include the sale of certain adaptive equipment. This change will reduce sales and use tax collections by an estimated $32,703 in fiscal year 2003-04 and $47,634 in fiscal year 2004-05. The reduction of these tax collections will decrease the amounts transferred to the Local Government Fund for state-municipal revenue sharing in those years by $1,701 and $2,477. The resulting net reduction of General Fund revenue is estimated to be $31,002 in fiscal year 2003-04 and $45,157 in fiscal year 2004-05, based on an effective date of October 1, 2003.
Fiscal Disposition: Ought Not to Pass Pursuant to Joint Rule 310 03/25/03.
More outraged, I wheel back into my handicap accessible van, and head over to the Department of Motor Vehicle and pay $1,350 sales tax, of which $800 was for sales tax on handicap accessible equipment.
How does this make sense?!?
Not only do I have to pay thousands and thousands of extra dollars every year for my extensive medical and home healthcare aid cost, have my earning potential significantly challenged due to my very real disability, but on top of having to pay an extra $15-30k for a vehicle, I also have to pay the state their cut… their tax on me being disabled. IT’S FREAKING RIDICULOUS!
So yeah, I’m ranting now and very upset now, but rightfully so. How does it make sense that we as a society, we as the State of Maine tax our disabled population extra just because they are disabled.
Arghhhhhhhhhhh! They are charging me an extra $800 on the sales tax for my handicap accessible equipment just so the state can make an extra $40-$50k! ACK!
Writing my representatives again, and by golly I’d better get a response this time!