As vacation approaches there are always loose ends that need to be tied up. Stef got her hair cut. Helaine had errands to run. I went to see why we were getting a tax bill for a car that we got rid of in late 2003.
First a word to the out-of-staters reading this. Connecticut is unusual in what gets taxed and how. When I moved here in 1984, there was no income tax. Connecticut was a tax haven. Trust me – no more.
Along with the normal property taxes a homeowner pays, Connecticut goes one step further. You pay property tax on your car. Like real property taxes, it’s assessed at a ‘fair market value’ and then a percentage is lopped off that.
Why? I don’t know. It’s ridiculous because the next step is to apply the ‘mill rate’, making any adjustments somewhat arbitrary.
Here’s what I learned today. The Assessor’s Office is different that the Tax Collector’s Office. They’re both involved in the process, but sort of like opposite arms on a dysfunctional body.
This is not to say the people in both offices weren’t very nice. They were. Nor am I implying they weren’t very helpful. They were. It’s the system that’s somewhat out of whack.
It took a nice man in the Assessor’s Office the better part of twenty minutes to explain what this bill was about. Then we went through it step by step with a calculator. It was correct. It just didn’t make sense the first ten times he explained it, and I was really trying to understand.
You may ask, as I did (to myself, under my breath) why these calculations weren’t spelled out on the bill? How come an explicit explanation of what was being billed wasn’t included? Why did the bill imply it was all about a car I don’t have, when that’s a very small part of the whole story.
It’s not like my time with these town officers was free. Every moment I spend with them is time they can’t do something more important.
Anyway, tax bill under control. Check in the mail.
Back home we’re nearly ready for tomorrow’s getaway. The suitcases, each weighed for maximum stuffosity, line the upstairs hallway. If I can borrow one of those harnesses all the folks at Home Depot wear, I’ll run them down the stairs and into Helaine’s car for the trip to the airport.
I still have to take a quiz for my Thermodynamics class (I am doing anything I can to put this off… like writing this blog entry) and pack my electronics.
By the time my carry-on bag goes through security, the x-rays will imply I’m someone who just pulled off a huge heist at Circuit City. Taking off my shoes will be the least of my problems.
Current Connecticut temperature: 33°
Current Los Angeles temperature: 63°