Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Held Hostage By My Town

I've had a festering problem with the city I live in for a long long time. I've tried to settle it over and over again, but the city refuses to budge on something so stupid, so idiotic, so moronic that it's almost unbelievable. And yet it's true. The city refuses to believe that my family lived in California from 1998 to 2002. No matter how much proof I give them, it's not enough. No matter what I am told I need to prove my claim, they will not accept it.

Why does this matter?

Well, in MA we have a little extortion called excise tax. Every year you get to pay the city for the privilege of owning your automobile. It isn't small change either. It can be hundreds of dollars. You pay this excise tax yearly, and if you don't, you cannot renew a license, nor can you register your car. In other words, it's real extortion.

Now, from 1998 to 2002 I did not live in the Commonwealth. I lived in California. I registered my car in California. I got a driving license in California. And when my city billed me for excise tax in California, I sent it back telling them I did not live there. So they mailed it directly to my California address. Because they are morons. They kept billing me in California every year. Even though I had long since left the east coast and had notified them of that. You see, I was supposed to send back my plates. But when I registered my car in CA, they took the plates. I thought that was the way it worked. But it isn't, at least in my city. Who knew? Not me, and not the CA registry that took my plates. So, because they never got the plates back, my city kept billing me at my CA address. For years. How stupid is that?

When I moved back, they refused to believe that I lived in California, even though they had, and still have, my California address in their computer. OK... that makes absolutely NO SENSE, but that's only the beginning. They wanted to see my California registration from 1998. Um, do you keep your old registrations? I don't. Even the state of California doesn't require you too, but evidentally that doesn't matter to the Commonwealth. They want the registration.

I went to the Registry and they told me that all I needed for the City to stop this nonsense was a form proving that my car is no longer registered. Since the car no longer exists, that's not a big problem. I got the form and brought it back to the city. The city refused to even look at it. They want PROOF that my car was registered in CA in 1998. So I sent the state of California this form I got off their web site, waited 2 months for it to be returned...wrong. The state didn't recognize the car id# and said it never existed in their system. I called the DMV in CA and they told me to fill out the form again. I sent a COPY of the last registration I had, from 2000, with the exact information they requested. They sent back another letter saying that they didn't have any record of my car, even though I sent them the damn COPY of my registration, and a copy of my driving license in CA. Oh, they knew about the license, but not the plates. WTF?

So I went back to the city with all this information, and again they refused to believe me. But this time I saw a bunch of different people, each more unwilling to help than the last one. At first they wanted me to pay $600 in back excise tax. Last week it was $800. I can't pay that. I don't have it and I won't ever have it. That's totally out of the question for me to fork over, especially since I do not owe it. I DO NOT OWE IT.

So the city is holding me hostage. I cannot fly without a driving license. I cannot go pick up my car in DC without a driving license. I cannot go anywhere or do anything unless they let me get a driving license in this stupid state, and the ONLY people keeping me back are the sad employees of our city hall.

What gets me the most is that this doesn't EVER have a statute of limitations. The IRS does. The Mass Dept of Revenue does. But the... nope. If I owed excise tax from 1933, I'd still have to pay it. It's the stupidest rule because nobody keeps registration records for that long. You don't have to. You only have to keep your current registration. Why would I move that 3000 miles across the country? Who even knows that MA has such arcane rules?

I need to get a license. I can't keep living without one. I have absolutely no identification whatsoever because I cannot even get my passport renewed without a driving license. There's a law that was passed recently about a national ID. I can't get one. I have done absolutely wrong other than to move back to this God-Forsaken city. I swear, if I could drive, I'd be outta here in a flash. I'm that annoyed. I'm that frustrated. I'm that angry.

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Blogger Rhea said...

I hate this kind of stuff. I would be going nuts, too, if I were you. There must be a human being somewhere that you can talk to.

24/3/08 2:10 PM  
Blogger bethany actually said...

What the F, indeed? That is just insane and FRUSTRATING. I hope Rhi is right and that there is a human somewhere who you can talk to.

24/3/08 2:42 PM  
Blogger daysgoby said...

Does one of the local news stations have a human interest crimefighter?

Hank Phillippe? (I may be thinking of the wrong coast - we get news from both Boston and LA, so if the name makes NO SENSE what so ever ignore it, okay?)

Good luck. That sounds like a terrible situation.

24/3/08 3:33 PM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

Ugh, that would drive me crazy! Hang in there----someone must have some sense in one of those departments!

24/3/08 7:16 PM  
Blogger Daisy said...

I can't think of a thing to say, other than echo your frustration at the ridiculousness. I like the idea of a local human interest crimefighter. Someone must want to deal with your case properly.

24/3/08 9:12 PM  
Blogger purple_kangaroo said...

How frustrating!

2/4/08 2:17 PM  

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