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You May Have a Refund Coming on Those Auto Taxes You Paid
YOU MAY HAVE a refund coming. In a recent decision, the United States Supreme Court has clarified the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act, as it pertains to the collection of taxes from servicemen who register automobiles in other than their home state.
Briefly, the court held that, while a serviceman can be required to register his car in the host state if he has not registered it in his home state, he cannot be made to pay certain state taxes other than the customary licensing fee.
As a result of this decision, several states have provided for the refund of taxes improperly collected from servicemen over the past several years.
Before shooting off a letter to the motor vehicle department of your host state, however, you'd better check JAG Inst 5840.5, which describes the correct procedures for doing so.
Here are the states which have made provisions for refund, and a brief description of the procedures in each case:
California - Refund applications can only be made on form Reg. 399, which can be obtained by writing to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, P. 0. Box 1319, Sacramento, Calif. 95806.
The California Motor Vehicle Department first announced that, because of the statute of limitations, refunds could be claimed only for fees paid for 1964, 1965 or 1966.
Since then, the Attorney General of California has expressed the opinion that the statute of limitations does not include the period of time during which the claimant is in the armed forces, and the three-year period is thereby extended. When submitting claims for the years before 1964, an affidavit as to the period of active duty should be included with the claim.
If the application is for 1966 fees, the California registration card must accompany the application, with the ownership certificate, if available.
No refund may be claimed for fees paid on a trailer, if it was being rented from you at the time the fees were paid.
Maryland - Form td-128 (4/66) is used, and it can be obtained by writing to the Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles, 6601 Ritchie Highway, N. E., Glen Burnie, Md. 21061.
A copy of the form is attached to the JAG Instruction mentioned above and your legal officer may have copies available.
Even if you resided in Maryland, but were assigned to, duty elsewhere in the area (that is, D. C. or Virginia), you are entitled to a refund. However, only those claims which are filed within three years of the date of payment of the tax may be refunded.
Mississippi - Here, the refund applies only to a tax levied on servicemen owning house trailers.
Two applications are required. One to the State Auditor for the portion of the tax which was the state tax, and another to the county for the portion which was county tax.
The tax receipt must accompany the application. If you lost it (or threw it away) you may obtain another from the county officials to whom the tax was paid.
An affidavit must be sent to support the claim, and it must be notarized. You also must include a certificate, signed by your commanding officer, stating that on the date the tax was paid, you were in Mississippi solely by virtue of military orders.
The form which accompanies the JAG Instruction may be reproduced locally.
Virginia - Since the license fees in Virginia are imposed and collected at the local government level, rules for the entire commonwealth have not been promulgated.
However, the following action is recommended:
In the future, if you are a non-resident military man living in Virginia and requested by a local official to obtain a license, the JAG directive recommends that you request that it be issued without charge. If payment is still required, you should make payment under written protest. (A notation on your check will be sufficient.)
For past payment, you should make written claim for refund to the treasurer of the jurisdiction to whom you paid the fee. Thus far all jurisdictions have denied such claims. You should keep a copy of the claim, together with any reply you receive.
The JAG Instruction includes a suggested form for the claim.