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2007 Calendar Cover Car
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Discussion Starter #1
For those of you who live in Connecticut, you are well aware of the annual Motor Vehicle property tax. This year the property tax on my Factory Five Roadster increased almost 20x to well over $1000!

My car is registered as a 2004 Composite Cobra, which I believe was the only available option at the time (no option to register it as a 1965). Since that timeframe, the tax has been relatively low on the car. Quite a shock this year.

I initially had my wife call the assessor’s office (she’s familiar with the car and taxes). He told her that it’s difficult to assess these cars, therefore Autotrader was used to assess it. He said these cars range in market value, many well above $60 - 80K, therefore the assessment on ours was ‘reasonable’. He gave no indication on why the assessment changed in 2019. He stated we could contest it in September at a session specific to challenging assessments.

Over the past few days, I’ve been researching CT DMV’s website and any information available. In addition, I looked on autotrader.com, which is where he stated he pulled the values. To my surprise, there are no Cobras on autotrader. Interesting.

Today I followed up with a call to the assessor’s office. He started out by saying that he already explained the assessment when I (my wife) called, and again repeated we could come in September to provide documentation of a different value.

I asked him where he arrived at the assessment value, and this time he stated Google. I questioned him on the use of Google as an assessment tool, and he said it’s in his right to use it and stands by it. I stated he told my wife he used autotrader, and he didn’t have a good response.

When I mentioned there are many different kits and build standards, he didn’t really acknowledge, except to suggest I should have put my brand (Factory Five) on the title in 2004. Such great guidance.

I asked him if he really thought it was reasonable to increase the assessment so much, and he stated yes. I asked if this was your car, would you think so? He said he’d never buy a car like this (note: I built mine :)). He said if it was him, he’d just be happy to enjoy the prior years lower assessments.

The conversation didn’t improve from there, and he even said "do you think I’m going to change my mind after this 9 minute phone call?”. Nice, now the assessor can apparently assess cars based on emotion and Google.

I asked if there was a path for me to update the year of the car from 2004 to 1965, since that’s what is on the certificate of origin and the body style, and also that the DMV regs now allow us to title our cars in the year of the body style (1965). https://www.ct.gov/dmv/cwp/view.asp?a=804&q=244898. He implied it’s not legal, since my VIN is based on 2004, and the kit (car) is not from 1965.

Here’s what it says on CTDMV:
At the time of inspection a VIN will be assigned by the Inspector. The year assigned to the vehicle will be the year in which the vehicle was built or the year of a previously manufactured vehicle that it most closely resembles. On your registration and title documents, the make will be specified as "Composite."

I thought that this form was a potential option for updating the vehicle year, but he indicated no, based on the existing 2004-based VIN:
TAXPAYER'S APPLICATION FOR CHANGE OF MOTOR VEHICLE ASSESSMENT: https://www.ct.gov/dmv/LIB/dmv/20/29/L-4.pdf

I told him that actions like these are damaging the hobby and could potentially drive me to sell the car. I couldn’t help but also comment that these type of taxation actions are pushing people and companies (GE, UTC, etc) out of Connecticut.

“Any more questions?", and he quickly got off the phone. I called back, got his name and ‘deputy' position, and he quickly got off again.

So, I’m boxed in. I’m stuck paying half of the assessed amount before Aug 1, then attempt to contest it in September. When I asked if I will receive interest on money they are holding for the period between payment and reimbursement (assuming I can get it lowered), he didn’t know how to answer it. Kinda frightening, considering he’s in a financial-related position.

I’ve also reached out to https://www.ctccc.net, since their website has some good information on CT vehicle tax. Hoping they have some guidance.

Anyone else experience a change this year?
 

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I would say that Connecticut is trying make for the loss of income from the big guys leaving from the wallets of the little guys. Good luck in your challenge.
 

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Snake Farmer
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10,297 Posts
I've never heard of a vehicle property tax before?

I pay an annual license fee, but it is based on the weight of the vehicle, not the vehicle itself. It's never been more then $80 even on my motorhome.

Does CT justify this ridiculously high tax, by not charging other taxes, such as sales tax on vehicle purchases?
 

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I feel for you Redfish.:surprise:
But I know how you will solve the problem ...Move... to a more tax friendly state,as we did 10 years ago....AND we have never looked back.
 

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Retitle

I tried to retitle mine last year. Called and spoke to the "Title Unit" was told to write a letter, send in $25.00, and a copy of the law about the "Year it most closely resembles". I did all that.
3 weeks later I got a letter back from the Title unit stating that they won't retitle my 2004 composite, because it was already titled......Took 6 months to get my $25 back.

Interestingly a buddy of mine was able to retitle his MK2 to a 1965 about 2 years ago.........go figure.
 

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Senior Charter Member
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Wow that sucks. Property taxes in Ct. go pretty much town by town, don't think the state has much to do with it. My Danbury vehicle tax bill came recently and the 4 line items all together only come to a bit over $700. Sounds like somebody in your town government decided they needed an increase in revenue and ordered the tax office to pull out all the stops. Did your house property tax go up as well??
 

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2007 Calendar Cover Car
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2,709 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Hey Carl. Yeah, I saw that they apparently changed the composite registration regs, and now you 'could' register it as year of body style. Sucks to see you were unsuccessful in changing it, since I thought about that as well. When I suggested that to the 'deputy', he made it sounds like I'd be cheating the system since the car was already titled as a 2004. Unbelievable.

It's becoming clear to me this guy relied on Google to do his job.


I tried to retitle mine last year. Called and spoke to the "Title Unit" was told to write a letter, send in $25.00, and a copy of the law about the "Year it most closely resembles". I did all that.
3 weeks later I got a letter back from the Title unit stating that they won't retitle my 2004 composite, because it was already titled......Took 6 months to get my $25 back.

Interestingly a buddy of mine was able to retitle his MK2 to a 1965 about 2 years ago.........go figure.
 

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So, since it is a "property" tax, are they going to start taxing you for the TV's you own? Boats? Lawnmowers? This could go on endlessly. Everything you own and paid taxes on when you bought could conceivably be taxed endlessly in the future.
 

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Buck
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289 Posts
IIRC here in GA mine was retitled as a 65 Cobra Replica. I did have to send in the title of authenticity from FFR and 2 or 3 value estimates from someone or somewhere (Ford dealer) they can contact. The dealer just asked me what I thought it was worth so I showed him the canceled bank check. The GA DMV then sent out an inspector and checked the head lights, brake lights and turn signals, seat belts, windshield, mirrors and that was it. He left some paperwork which I took to the registration office and got my plate and reg sticker and I was free to drive. The hardest part was getting them to understand that this is a replica and finding a proper code and not a restored original.
 

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What town are you in Redfish? I am in Stratford and we have a long way to go before we are ready to register. Most CT towns have their own method to calculate values, what portion of that value, and what mill rate they will tax you at based on their budgets. Sounds like your assessors evaluation methods are questionable?
 

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2007 Calendar Cover Car
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2,709 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
I'm in Middletown (Tax Assessor | Middletown, CT), and yes, questionable. I received the response below from the assessor today. I email him earlier this week to try to better understand how the deputy assessor assessed my vehicle, and request his assistance in providing the actual tools and documentation they used when reassessing this car for 2019, so we can better prepare our case for appeal.

Clearly they feel they do not need to substantiate their position. Seems like a crime to me.

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This office is required to value all vehicles in accordance with §12-71d. which reads as follows: "Sec. 12-71d. Schedule of motor vehicle values. On or before the first day of October each year, the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management shall recommend a schedule of motor vehicle values which shall be used by assessors in each municipality in determining the assessed value of motor vehicles for purposes of property taxation. For every vehicle not listed in the schedule the determination of the assessed value of any motor vehicle for purposes of the property tax assessment list in any municipality shall continue to be the responsibility of the assessor in such municipality.."

In other words, if a vehicle does not appear on the [pricing] schedule of motor vehicles (OPM has instructed all assessors to value motor vehicle based upon the NADA clean retail value as published in the October edition), the value shall be determined by the assessor. There is no reference as to what information must be obtained, used, or considered to make that determination.

When you make an appeal, the appeal is not whether the assessor erred in his calculations, used an incorrect body type, or has insufficient knowledge of the intricacies of the specific make, model, kit type, chassis, etc. of the vehicle in question. The appeal is that the value placed upon the vehicle is inaccurate, and the appellant is required to share their detailed knowledge of the vehicle to the Board of Assessment Appeals for consideration. If the Board is so compelled by the testimony and evidence presented at the hearing they will make a determination and move to issue a new value.

As such, it is my recommendation that you focus on the appeal, and persuading the Board of a fair value for the vehicle as of October 1, 2018 as is required, rather than "the actual tools and documentation" used by this office. A successful appeal will make the value placed on the vehicle invalid regardless of any information I may find.

However, without compelling testimony or evidence indicating a value you find more appropriate, the Board may simply move to deny your appeal.

Kindest regards,

Xxxxx Xxxxxxx, CCMA II
Assessor, City of Middletown
245 deKoven Dr.
Middletown, CT 06457
Tel: (860) 638-4930 Fax: (860) 638-1935
 

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It does sound like the assessor gave you instruction on a bit of an out but you will need to do the homework and be more prepared than "the board". In searching the NADA Guide I don't see the terms "Composite", "Shelby", or "Cobra". so I am not sure what they used for the assessment. I do see a 1965 Bristol Coupe ($408 - $409), but making a historical connection to the AC Bristol Body would be a stretch for most assessors. Good luck, I'll be following this thread.
 

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Your best defence would seem to be to demonstrate that the assessor was confused between a number of similar-looking (but easily distinguished) cars made by different manufacturers.

Most likely the sold listings on eBay will be your friend here - go equipped with a couple of dozen FFR sales and they would be hard-pressed to argue - remember the assessor doesn't care/know about the build quality - it's just a Factory Five to them.

If you also go equipped with some Kirkham/Backdraft sales as well to demonstrate that the assessor simply confused completely different cars which look very similar.

If you can build an argument around something other than "the assessor is an idiot", and instead around a simple mistake in using a Backdraft/Kirkham price instead of a FFR price, you should be good.

Oh, and if you think you have CT problems - you might feel better knowing about this poor guy who apparently owns the most expensive car in Darien, CT - a BMW 440i XDR valued at an astonishing $387,800.

Anyone else thinking "typo?".

https://www.darientimes.com/news/community/article/Darien-s-grand-list-down-just-over-1-percent-for-14024187.php
 

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2007 Calendar Cover Car
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2,709 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
I'm with ya, I think that's the right approach. Show 'what it is' ($11K FFR kit, bought in 2002, donor car, registered in 2004) vs. 'what it is not' (new Superformance with a new big block, $90K+). Keep the 'assessor is an idiot' comments until after I get the refund. :)

I'll be interested to see what eBay yields, since as you mentioned, even in the FFR family, there are versions (MKI, MKII, etc) and things like options, engines and paint can swing prices. The fact is that this is a 17-year old kit registered in 2004. Depreciation also needs to be factored in, just like a production car. A 2002 mustang is not valued the same as a 2019.

Funny this thread is running at the same time: https://www.ffcars.com/forums/17-factory-five-roadsters/638770-factory-five-cobra-what-s-cost.html. Great example of a wide spectrum of costs, even some early builds.

Thanks for the guidance.

BTW, ouch in Darien!!!
 

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I originally had my MKIV registered with normal plates and was paying $700 a year. I realized that my registration certificate read 1965 FFR Cobra and went to DMV to get classic plates. They exchanged my plates and I am now paying something around $30 a year. No discussion with the town needed. Do you have classic plates. If your registration states 2004, then maybe you will have to endure 5 more years of the CT kleptocracy.
 

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2007 Calendar Cover Car
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2,709 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Well boys and girls, here's the update.

I went to the assessment appeal board in early September. The board is supposed to consist of 3 members reviewing the appeals. It did not. Instead, they had each appellant meet with only one board member, and supposedly that one board member presents the appeal to the other two. This deviation from the 3-panel board gives the taxpayer less of a forum to successfully present their appeal.

So I presented my appeal to the one board member, who seem to know very little about cars and how they are assessed.

I presented (in powerpoint format!) the differences between a Factory Five and high priced kits like Superformance; explained "what it is" vs. "what it's not". I also showed the cost of my kit at the time of purchase in 2002 (17 years ago!) and examples of Factory Five and Superformance cars for sales.

By the end of September, I received a response in the mail. DECLINED. Declined, with no justification.

Next step is to present to Superior Court, which of course costs (me) more money, with the continued risk of no success. Seems to me Middletown has a nice little process set up here to stifle the voice of the taxpayer and generate themselves revenue.

Beware if you are a CT (especially Middletown) resident planning to build a kit!!
 

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This just begs otherwise dutiful taxpayers to do the Montana LLC work around. 1k a year for the privilege of driving a car maybe a few thousand miles for most folks is ridiculous.

For comparison, here in Georgia my annual taxes are roughly $25 for my Mark 4. Had I been forced to register as a 2011 instead of a 1965, I would have darted straight to form a Montana LLC.

Edit: I forgot to mention best of luck. Sorry you are having to go through this.
 

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2007 Calendar Cover Car
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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks Jimmy. Yep, state actions and rates like these are reasons people and companies are leaving Connecticut.

Not only are they raising assessment values, they have continued to raise the tax rate year over year, so it’s a double hit.
 

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2007 Calendar Cover Car
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2,709 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Hey guys. Just bringing this to the top again, due to some recent activity. I know folks will be going to CT inspections (at some point) this spring, so I want to share this information. You need to be sure you get your car titled / registered as a 1965, or you could be exposed to this same unethical taxation crap that I am. Getting your car registered as a 1965 provides the ability to get Historic plates, which keeps the annual vehicle tax at a low, fixed amount.

When mine was titled in 2004, CT DMV didn't have the provision to title in "the year of a previously manufactured vehicle that it most closely resembles". I've spoken with DMV, and unlikely I can get this changed to 1965, but I'm not done trying.

  • At the time of inspection a VIN will be assigned by the Inspector. The year assigned to the vehicle will be the year in which the vehicle was built or the year of a previously manufactured vehicle that it most closely resembles. On your registration and title documents, the make will be specified as "Composite".
I'm likely faced with paying $1150 for the next four years until it reached 20 years in age. Honestly, I'm thinking about selling the car. Why should I give the town this money?! Considering I scrutinized every dollar I invested in this car, it kills me that after 16 years of the car being registered, I now have to fork over $1150 annual (will be well over $5000 over 5 years) due to the money grabbing, corrupt actions of the Middletown Tax Office.

As mentioned in prior posts, the town failed to hold a proper 3-panel board back in September, so I attempted to resubmit my appeal for February. The day of the appeal, the tax assessor informed me that I could not re-appeal.

Either way, I joined the appeals conference call at my time slot. Once again, the town only had one board member on the call to hear the appeals (not just my appeal). She stated I couldn't re-appeal it. I questioned her on why the prior September appeal was declined, and much like the assessor, couldn't address why the prior appeal was declined or why the sudden 1800% increase in annual tax.

So here's the funny part, and shows how sneaky / weak the town assessor is. In the beginning of the call, after the single board member joined, the tax assessor joins the call. This was the type of conference call where you state your name prior to the system putting you through. The system announces 'Damon', but he never introduces himself or speaks the entire call! At one point during the call, I ask if he's on the line, and he doesn't speak up or acknowledge me when I call him by name and ask about the assessment. So sneaky!

After the COVID situation settles down, I plan to engage our Congressmen (it's an election year!), or the newspaper, to investigate the tax office. Maybe SEMA?

Knowing these assessors kick around from town to town, watch out for:

Damon Braasch
Tax Assessor
Email
Roger Palmer
Deputy Assessor
Email
 
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