BOZEMAN – Call it recreational robbery: An out-of-state resident sets up a dummy company in Montana, buys a motor home under that company name and escapes tens of thousands of dollars in sales taxes.
And there is nothing illegal about it.
In California, where a majority of RV buyers are escaping a sales tax as high as 8.75 percent, depending on where the buyer lives, law enforcement officials and lawmakers are crying foul at this loophole.
Some Montana officials, however, don’t see it as a crime; they see dollar signs. Private business wins by gaining out-of-state business. The state wins by getting more registration fees.The perceived problem has gotten so much attention in California that that state has created a law-enforcement program specifically to deal with it.
The California Highway Patrol has a program called Californians Help Eliminate All The Evasive Registration Scofflaws, or CHEATERS, which asks people to report California residents suspected of having a vehicle registered in another state.
California Highway Patrol Officer David Constantini runs the program created in 2004 to combat California’s diminished sales tax revenue.
“We’re missing out on a good $10 million a year, and that’s being very conservative,” Constantini said. “It’s very frustrating.”
Fees, taxes less than 1% of California’s
A $350,000 motor home bought in California would include more than $30,000 in registration fees and taxes. The same motor home bought in Montana would cost less than $300 a year to register, according to the Montana Department of Motor Vehicles. And there would be no sales tax.”
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