One way to save a lot of money – and avoid a lot of hassle – is to opt out of paying the annual “registration” fees the governments of most states extort from car owners – and skip the annual “safety” and “emissions” inspections that many states require on top of that. Plus the payment of the fees on top of that.
You can do it legally, too.
But there’s a catch.
Your car must generally be 25 years old or more – at which point it qualifies (in most states) for Antique Vehicle registration, which in most states is permanent – no annual “renewal” extortion – and becomes exempt from both “safety” and “emissions” inspections/extortion.
The savings can be considerable. The gladness arising from avoiding the extortion even more so. Anytime you can get the sticky fingers of government out of your pocket – and its bayonet out of your backside – it is a happy day.
Or happy decades.
My 1976 Trans-Am as been exempt from serial extortion about 20 years now. The Antique tags it wears have kept nearly $800 in my pocket just from not having to send the government roughly $40 every year for the past 20 years in extorted “exchange” for a set of ugly month/year stickers such as I’m obliged to “buy” for my not-antique (yet) truck.
Not having to spend another $15 every year to have my car’s “safety” approved has saved me another $300 thus far – as well as saved me the time I would have wasted driving to get it inspected and the angst of having to let some stranger manhandle my car with his greasy fingers and lug nut-rounding air gun.
In my state, there is another annual extortion applied to all registered vehicles. It is styled – honestly, at least – the property tax on motor vehicles. You are compelled to pay a sum to the government each year as the condition of being allowed to possess the vehicle, which the government actually owns as a material fact since you will never stop paying the government as the price of being allowed to hold onto it. Which holding-onto-it ends when you stop paying the government.
At which point, who owns what becomes more clear. As with the ownership state of the home you’re allowed to live in . . . so long as you pay the government for the privilege.
Anyhow, the “car tax” – as it’s informally known – is assessed each year and based on the average retail value of the vehicle. Even for an old (but not yet Antique) vehicle like my ’02 pick-up, the tax is still close to $100 annually. Tack that on to the cost of owning a not-Antique vehicle.
Not surprisingly, many owners of old-enough vehicles are getting the Antique tags – and saving a bunch of money. Which is possible because new cars now commonly last 25 years and longer.
Naturally, the government is not happy about that.
When my ’76 was new, 25 years was a long time for a new car to last. Very few did. For that reason, government didn’t care much about the small handful of survivors, most of them garage-kept and rarely driven cars with some historic value, such as my Trans-Am. The government figured – rightly – that cars of its type were largely for show and not used (primarily) to evade.
And so they were “loopholed” – and let alone.
Fast forward 45 years, from ’76 to now.
People are getting Antique tags for their 25-year-old daily drivers, many of which are only historic by dint of being old. My ’02 Nissan Frontier pickup is only six years away from meeting the age minimum to qualify for Antique tags – and I will surely take advantage of that, so as to reduce the sum of money taken from me by the government and so as to have to deal with the government less.
The age minimum to qualify for Antique tags will likely be raised – in order to “disqualify” most modern cars by laying down an age minimum even they will have trouble attaining.
This would of course not have much effect on most currently-qualified Antiques, like my ’76 Pontiac – which is not far from being eligible for Social Security. But it would preclude my ’02 Nissan from qualifying – so as to keep the cash flowing.
And what would the effect be of property taxes applied to Antique cars of historic value that are not merely old? How long before government casts its eyes in that direction?
There is a lot of your money at stake – if you own an Antique car.
A ’96 Neon with a book value of $800 isn’t going to bring in much cash. But how about a well-preserved or restored ’76 Trans-Am? Or a ’66 GTO?
As government goes broke – having spent all of our money – it will inevitably seek more of it. Probably by making it much more difficult for a car to qualify for Antique tags. Perhaps by shoving a bayonet in the back of Antique car owners, to make them pony up.
It was fun while it lasted.
. . .
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