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California's Pickup Truck Tax: Unjust, Unfair and Unwarranted - Publications - CA State Senator Roy Ashburn - CSSRC


<h1 class="title">California's Pickup Truck Tax: Unjust, Unfair and Unwarranted</h1>

<div><p>The state of California has been discriminating against pickup truck owners for over thirty years by overtaxing them. We all agree that state government needs money to do the important things, so a bit of taxation will always be necessary. It’s a different story though when a tax is applied arbitrarily or unfairly. California pickup truck owners have been faced with just such an unfair tax for far too long and it’s time to put a stop to it.</p>
<p>The California Department of Motor Vehicles categorizes all pickup trucks as commercial vehicles and charges a commercial vehicle fee on top of annual registration fees and has done so since 1973. Unless it is equipped with a permanent camper shell, every pickup in California is taxed as though it were being used in a business. Moreover the DMV admits that 90% of pickup trucks in California are not used for commercial purposes, yet pickup owners must continue to pay this fee anyway.</p>
<p>California families are already burdened by various Federal, State and Local taxes and fees. The last thing they need is another tax on the family truck that they were never supposed to be paying in the first place. That is why I have introduced Senate Bill 422 to eliminate the pickup truck tax on privately owned vehicles.</p>
<p>The DMV says that 4.5 million non-commercial pickups in California are being taxed this way. Noted taxpayer advocate Lew Uhler, Chairman of the National Tax Limitation Committee has called this practice “tantamount to stealing.” How much is being taken from California’s hard working taxpayers because of the design of their chosen form of transportation? According to the DMV the amount of commercial fees collected from non-commercial pickup truck owners will total $288 million in 2008 – over a quarter of a billion dollars!</p>

<p>The DMV claims that the commercial fee is necessary to cover the wear and tear on our state’s roads and highways due to the weight of private pickup trucks. The commercial weight charge however, does not apply to pickup trucks with a permanent sleeper shell, SUV’s, or large passenger sedans heavier than many models of pickup trucks. The owner of a Ford Ranger pays an annual pickup truck tax of $24, but the owner of a Chevrolet Impala with a similar weight, does not. The owner of Ford F150 pays $80 that the owner of a Cadillac Deville doesn’t have to pay. Larger private pickups such as those used to haul campers or horse trailers pay even more – up to $257, while owners of Hummers, Excursions and Suburbans do not, even though many of those larger SUVs are in fact used for commercial purposes.</p>
<p>There may have been a time when pickup trucks were used mainly for construction and trades, but that’s certainly not the case today. Families have discovered the convenience and utility of having a pickup truck for do-it-yourself projects, recreation, and day-to-day shopping and chores. There is no good reason for the State of California to collect commercial fees on personal vehicles not being used for commercial purposes. SB 422 will fix this unfair tax.</p>
<p>Opponents of abolishing the pickup truck tax say that state government “can’t afford” to lose that much revenue during tight fiscal times. That argument however begs the point. The money should never have been collected in the first place. The state of California will collect nearly $100 billion in revenue this year. The unjust pickup truck tax is ¼ of one percent of that. If there is a shortfall in revenue because of lost dollars that should never have been collected in the first place, then the State of California can darn well tighten its belt by ¼ of one percent and spend less. It’s that simple.</p>
<p>It has been said that the routine taxes we all pay are at best a necessary evil. When taxes are applied unjustly or unfairly however, that’s not necessary and it’s still evil. It’s time to end California’s arbitrary and unnecessary pickup truck tax. </p>
<p class="center"><em>Senator Ashburn represents the 18 th Senate District including Tulare, Kern, Inyo, and San Bernardino Counties</em>.</p>
 

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Wow! Someone is actually standing up and speaking out. 3 cheers for that guy. :D

Bob
 

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This state is broke, so dont count on any tax reductions soon. In a few days (after all the state assembly members get reelected) the Governor is calling them back in to "fix" the budget again. My bet is that the Vehicle License Fee, that was reduced a few years ago, will go back up to help balance the budget.
 

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This is the third item I've posted tonight. I'll be quiet for a few weeks to make up.
I bought my 2007 Tundra longbed and promptly put a shell (some folks back east would call it a cap) on it. With a couple of extra features it was $1,200 out the door including tax and installation. This is only as tall as the top of the cab. The A.R.E. shell was the only one I could find for a 2007 Tundra longbed. It took three weeks to deliver from back east. I am always pleased and amazed at how well they are able to match the color of the truck. It's perfect. And it has an extra cost front window that folds inward for cleaning.
So how does this save on DMV fees. In California if you put a shell (or camper) on a pickup you can take it to the DMV and they will change the pink slip designation from COMMERCIAL to "PM" which I assume means it's only used for passengers. They will collect your commercial plates and issue instead passenger car plates. And there is no DMV charge for this!
The net result is that I no longer have to pay weight fees which on this 2007 Tundra which comes to $144 a year. Over a few years the savings will almost pay for the shell.
It doesn't make sense as the truck can still be used for commercial purposes. But I'm not going to argue. I think it has something to do with it being defined as a "housecar" or something. Maybe they are thinking of campers on pickup trucks instead of little shells. Whatever. It has worked for me twice.
I did this with my 1999 Ford F-150 and now the Tundra.
Side-story: When I took it to the DMV to apply for the change I was told they had to inspect the vehicle. So I pulled it around to the inspection lane where I was told they didn't have to inspect it. I parked it (uninspected) and went back in where the paperwork was processed and the new pink slip was issued.
Hope this is useful to someone (at least in California).
I'm about to buy a 2007 tundra, but is has 5 years of registration back fees! So is there a way to get away without paying all the back fees by register it as non commercial vehicle, any idea??
 
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