To the Editor:
Having spent my entire working career in the "Automotive Industry", at both the retail and manufacturer level (I worked for Porsche Cars and Saab Cars USA) I feel comfortable in stating the fact that I probably have a lot more expertise as to the many facets that comprise this industry, including arriving at correct vehicle valuations, then do the 3-individuals that make up this State's "Vehicle Valuation Commission".
As a matter of fact, knowing what these 3-members full time jobs are "Assessing Taxes" I would even go so far to say that they represent, almost, what one could say is the 'Epitome of Conflicts of Interest'!
And, to make matters worse, after reading the latest article on this issue, in Saturday's statewide newspaper "Change in car tax exemptions drives appeals in R.I." it is also very obvious that they are totally lacking in knowledge, more-so common sense, in performing what are their assigned duties and responsibilities.
That said, I don't think I would be very far off base in stating the fact that, under very close scrutiny, they are also conducting themselves, somewhat, dishonestly? (IE: As previously stated, they have a 'Conflict of Interest') as they have a 'Vested Interest.'
It should also be noted that they are all also local Tax Assessors...as they have a 'Vested Interest'
As such.... in their seeing to it that vehicles have, regardless of condition, the highest possible assessed values assigned to them, they have established a higher source of income, then should be, from the tax revenue they are able to create.
I believe this could also be depicted as a case of: "The Fox Guarding the Hen House"?
Further, and according the article I am writing about, I quote: "Sticker shock or not, most of the appeals are denied. Under state law, assessments for new cars are based on the manufacturers suggested retail price, while those for used cars are based on the clean retail value as determined by the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA). The condition of the car and the mileage have no bearing on the value!"
I also learned of this the hard way when I went down to my tax assessor's office to appeal the value of my wife's 2002 Subaru Outback wagon.
We bought it 2 years ago from a licensed RI Used Car dealer for approximately $5,200.00 with almost 200,000-miles on it.
This year's tax bill came in and this car, 2-years older, with another 20,000 or so miles on it, was assessed at approximately $8,950.00.
And, yes, when I went to appeal this ludicrous valuation, that anyone with half a brain within the industry would laugh at, I was told that the condition of the vehicle, the mileage, and/or what was originally paid for it is not an acceptable criteria for appealing the valuation the commission assigned to it.
Do these people realize that if they attempted this kind of "Fuzz-Logic" within the industry, they would be laughed out of it, tarred and feathered and sent packing on a rail?
And, what is even more ironic and frustrating here, is the fact that under Rogues Island law when a person buys a car from a licensed RI Car Dealer (new or used) he/she does not have to pay any more in RI Sales tax then what the vehicle was purchased for.
Yet, the very next day your home town tax assessor can charge you any amount of vehicle property tax that is in placed, based on a totally erroneous, irresponsible, and also in my opinion, illegal, arbitrary process of arriving at values wherein the process to do so is not, anywhere within the automobile industry, in use.
I am referring to the fact that the Vehicle Valuation Commission will not allow for condition and mileage to be taken into consideration, in any way, manner, shape or form in arriving at the "True value' of one's vehicle.
Rather they have a 'One-Sided, Highly-Convoluted' cash cow and they are not going to let anyone, regardless of that person's knowledge and intelligence (common sense also) challenge them.
What we need here is a good lawyer, that knows the car industry and how vehicle values are arrived at to file a statewide "Class Action lawsuit" against the vehicle Valuation Commission as it is very obvious (should be obvious) that their entire process is convoluted, and totally out of line with how the Automotive industry arrives at vehicle values and is illegal.
In closing, however, I would like to point out that here in Cumberland, my hometown, while her hands are tied by the process, I did find our tax assessor, Pattie Acquaviva-Aubiin to be extremely sympathetic, helpful and courteous to me as to my not being at all happy with the situation and process as it is presently in place and needs badly to be changed.