Putting The Brakes On Car Tax Disparities

Equalizing Connecticut’s car tax structure is picking up speed in the legislative session in Hartford. One of the proposals under discussion is taxing all owners of motor vehicles the same tax rate based on a state average, instead of local tax rates. For instance, Bridgeport’s mil rate is 42 and Greenwich’s is 11. CT Mirror reporter Keith Phaneuf has more:

For example, the owner of a car valued at $20,000 would have paid $1,485.80 in taxes in Hartford in 2013, but only $207.80 in Greenwich.

“That’s why it really stands out as shockingly inequitable,” Looney said.

The New Haven lawmaker has introduced a bill to equalize motor vehicle taxes.

The measure still is being developed, but Looney said there are two basic approaches lawmakers could take.

The first involves replacing local property taxes on vehicles with a state property tax, which would reflect the average rate in Connecticut. Currently that would be about 28 mils, which represents a tax of $28 for every $1,000 of a vehicle’s assessed value.

The state then would send those funds to cities and towns. Those with rates above average–roughly one-third of the state’s 169 cities and towns–would lose revenue, while the rest would gain or break even.

Full story here.



  1. The operative concern here is assuring those tax dollars are actually sent to the municipalities and NOT confiscated by the Sate Government for the general fund. In essence the entire property tax structure puts an enormous burden on the cities and I have to believe is one of the driving forces of people registering their cars out of town, or flat-out moving. Rick Torres has championed this for quite some time as one of the first of many steps to restore tax fairness to the residents of Bridgeport. Again though … does the money come back?

  2. Gabriel,
    I like the way you are using this as a way of exploring outcomes. And with our existing Mil Rate that is high and is expected to go higher by City Hall (that is the reason for keeping the valuation of land and buildings in the City quiet until after the 2015 election), people will be looking for all opportunities for fairer taxation. In the case of Bridgeport fairer will mean lower in the circumstance of auto taxation.

    I am constantly surprised by what is available (by accident or otherwise) when it comes to access to public records. Before the City operating budget is presented to the City Council for their pro forma massage (with meals for 20 or so sessions) of Sherwood-produced numbers, the budget has already anticipated a variety of revenue sources from State, pilot payments, abatement schedules, etc. It would seem easy to display a kind of auto GRAND LIST as of a certain date each year, provide it on a State or City site (for those interested in seeing which neighbors with out-of-state cars are tax avoiders.

    City tax payments are made in January and July for the most part, but if car registrations are sprinkled throughout the year, this would serve to smooth revenue flows for the City as long as the State made a payment by a date certain after the close of each month. Transparent, open to public view and accountable for the dollars raised and returned to the City. A thing of beauty? Time will tell.

  3. This discussion is not new. Bridgeport would be one of the losers, receiving less if it is a Statewide assessment. Real property taxes would be increased to compensate for the loss. In Bridgeport, renters would be winners at the expense, of course, of property owners.

    1. I’m guessing Bridgeport would do just fine with a tax reallocation. This is about protecting the residents and not the 100 million dollar payroll of friends and family of the “Party.” How about a property tax cap? Say 2%. Make it so every elected official has to publicly own every single increase. You know, be responsive to those who elected them rather than those who employ them. Oh my, look what I’ve done. I have drawn a parallel to the Good Government bill that specifically deals with Conflict of Interest. Does Steve Stafstrom quit his day job upon being elected or does he resign because his firm’s only reason to exist is to profit off City and State contracts? One could actually say THE defining moment of Conflict of Interest.
      Hmmm … decisions, decisions.

      1. A 2% cap translates to 20 mils, which is about half the current mil rate. Any cap would be something to behold, I would really like to see them have to live within a budget like the rest of us.

  4. The personal property tax system in CT by its nature is anti-city. Manufacturers shun Bpt, in part because of the equipment and vehicle tax. If we eliminated these taxes, Bridgeport would be more attractive to business since the resulting higher real estate tax would be offset by lower property costs and values.

    Removing these taxes would streamline the tax collection process. Bridgeport could focus on efficiencies to compensate for lost revenues. I know this part is a bit laughable, but try to imagine an honest mayor running the show instead.

    The effort must be statewide so everyone is affected equally. Renters would have a short-term gain until landlords adjust rents.

  5. You have to think this through. Obviously, this is Malloy and the Dems appealing to their voter base. The problem is you do not eliminate taxes unless you curtail spending. Regardless of the tax base, appraised house values or car taxes, the city needs $500 million. If the tax base in town were cut in half BPT would have to 1-double the mil rate, 2-cut spending in half or 3-some combination of 1 and 2. This car tax idea will just shift what used to be car tax income to property tax. Since many in BPT rent they may not realize this will translate into higher rents. Homeowners and businesses know what will happen. As car taxes are a deductible business expense it will make little difference to most businesses.


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