I recently posted about budgeting for a PCS and, admittedly, left out a few things. Thankfully, others have graciously added some of their experiences in the comments section. Well, yesterday, another expense hit me smack in the face and I decided that I had to mention it. And then, stay with me here, I remembered a related issue that came up at our last duty station and thought I'd share that, too.
Yesterday, I went to get my vehicle registered here in Texas because my current tag is expiring at the end of this month. Prior to heading out the door, I called the local Vehicle Registration office to find out how much it was going to cost me and what items I needed to bring with me.
"Hello, I'm calling to find out what I need to do to get my vehicle registered here in Texas."
"Just bring your insurance card, current registration, any lienholder information, and proof of state inspection."
"Okay, I can do that. How much will this cost me?"
"Well, that depends on whether you drive a car or truck."
"Oh, okay, I drive a truck."
"Okay.... let me see...(a pause that led me to believe she was referencing something) that'll be $73.30."
So, armed with the above information and after stopping for a much needed oil change and the required state inspection, I headed to the Vehicle Registration office. After first pulling into the wrong parking lot (DO NOT ENTER sign prominently posted ~ thankfully I wasn't trying to get a new license), I finally made it to the correct lot and went inside. I stepped up to the window, handed everything over, answered a couple of questions, and was told that it would be $190.00! Wait a second.... what?! Yep, the nice lady on the phone had failed to check the weight of my truck (that somehow matters) and left out the part about some $90.00 fee for first time registrants. Fooey! That's an extra $120.00! Something I hadn't budgeted for. It just keeps adding up....
Anyway, that got me to thinking about our move to Louisiana. We were coming from Ft. Campbell and had our vehicles registered in Tennessee. TN has this great program where active duty service members, while living in TN, may purchase a vehicle in TN and do not have to pay vehicle sales tax. We had purchased both vehicles while living there and were exempt from paying sales tax on them. It was a great deal!
At least until we got to LA and our tags were due. When registering your vehicle, they check to see if you've previously paid taxes. Fair enough, right? Not really, if you have not paid any tax on the vehicle (legally exempt or not), they charge you their sales tax based on the depreciated value of your car, truck, or van. We knew people that were hit with anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to eight hundred dollars!
Not wanting to shell out hundreds of dollars, we looked into registering them in Texas (JD was a resident at the time) and found out they would charge us, too. And their tax rate was higher! I like to believe that it's a rule that is in place to prevent people from illegally avoiding taxes, especially on vehicles purchased through private owners. However, if an owner is LEGALLY exempt at the time of purchase, then I think they should remain exempt as long as they own the vehicle. What is with a state collecting taxes on a vehicle that wasn't even sold there? Is there anyone out there that can enlighten me/us? If so, please do so in the comments section. I'd love to *understand* this policy/law/rule.
Eventually, I was able to keep my plates in TN (JD had to change his residency, yet again) and LA didn't get anymore of my money. Thank goodness, because our insurance rates were outrageous!!