The War on Classic Cars: Connecticut Bill Would Increase Taxes Fivefold


War on Classic Cars: Connecticut Bill Would Increase Taxes Fivefold

A Connecticut leader says he is just trying to keep unscrupulous people from taking advantage of a tax break for antique cars.

But legitimate car collectors just see it as a tax increase for them, including Sam Romeo, who owns a 1959 Corvette, a 1972 Mercedes 350SL and a 1983 Chevy Caprice.

Right now, the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles caps the annual assessment at $500 for each of the 47,730 cars in a special program for vehicles at least 20 years old. Under state Rep. Jeffrey Berger’s proposal, that assessment would go up to $2,500 and would be limited to vehicles at least 30 years old.

“With the ’83 Chevy, I don’t think it’s worth $2,500,” said Romeo, who called the plan “out of line.”

Berger claims that there is “a lot of fraud” the way the current program is set up. “You have people driving around in a 1992 Toyota Corolla with an antique plate on it,” he said.

But that’s not the way collectors see it. They think it’s an attack on the collector car hobby.

“These cars have been around for a long time and have paid their dues to society,” said Frank “Skeets” Yantorno, who recently purchased a 1947 Plymouth Coupe and lives in Greenwich. “If someone chooses to resurrect them, why should we be penalized for that?”

Wayne Carini’s father was an early advocate for the Early American plate program, which began in 1951 for autos at least 25 years old upon lobbying of groups such as the Model A Restorers Club. He was also one of the first recipients of the special plates.

“People will think twice before they go out and buy a collector car now,” the younger Carini said. “You get the guy who’s just `Joe worker’ who’s worked hard all of his life and he’s finally saved up enough money to buy a collector car, and all of a sudden now the tax is going be (quintupled).”


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