Arcane blue slips


So you have received a blue slip.

There’s no question why you got the slip – you haven’t paid all or a portion of the excise tax on your motor vehicle, which is due to the city. The slip bears some alarming news; you won’t be able to register or re-register any vehicles until you are paid up.

If it’s any consolation, you are not alone. According to tax collector Ken Mallette, 10,000 of the notices were sent out about three weeks ago. Since then, there has been a steady stream of people at the tax collectors, with some heated arguments by some that they shouldn’t have received a notice at all.

That is the case, some of the time.

The city submitted its list of unpaid taxes to the Department of Motor Vehicles in October and it wasn’t until late December it got the addresses from the DMV. That may seem unnecessary. After all, if the city knew who owed taxes, why did it need a list of addresses from the DMV? The answer is that people change addresses, in many cases, moving out of the city.

That said, we find the system arcane and annoying.

As always, some people have paid the tax by the time they get the blue slip. Surely, much of this cost could have been reduced if the list of those to be sent notices was purged of people who already paid before the city put them in the mail. It would also appear that the city would not have to wait for the DMV list of addresses if it requested that information as soon as undeliverable tax bills were returned. Do this, and the city would get its money sooner.

Finally, the blue slips provide little information. People don’t know what vehicle they owe taxes on, or the amount they must pay. Further, the city says it won’t accept checks as payment, yet they take checks for other tax bills. If you tried to register a vehicle and were told at that time the tax was overdue, you will not be able to register a car until the check clears or you show the DMV a money order or certified check receipt. If you don’t know that before you try to pay with a personal check, you will have to leave and return with the cash.

There has to be a better way.

Threatening people that they won’t be able to register their vehicles on the basis of unpaid taxes without an accounting on the same sheet is certain to have them riled up.

It did leave one car owner laughing, though. Upon researching the matter, the woman discovered she owed $1.39 cents. It actually cost more for them to send the slip than what she’ll pay in taxes.


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Funny? Hardly, unless you have a very twisted sense of humor. Inexcusable, in this information age, would be a more apt term.

Thursday, March 14, 2013