2017-03-16 / Front Page

Excise tax exempted for military personnel?

By Garrick Hoffman
Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD – Active military individuals with a residence in Biddeford will be eligible for an excise tax exemption if the city council approves an ordinance passed this week by the policy committee.

The addition, titled Section 2-329 – Exempting Eligible Active Duty Military Personnel from Vehicle Excise Tax, was passed unanimously by the committee, with Ward 6 City Councilor Norm Belanger absent.

If passed by the city council, vehicles owned by Biddeford resident would be exempt from the annual excise tax if the owner is on active duty in the United States Armed Forces and is either permanently stationed at a military or naval post, station or base outside of Maine or deployed for military service for more than 180 days. This includes those who serve in the National Guard and Reserves.

To apply for the exemption, the resident must present certification from the commander of the resident’s post, station or base, or from the commander’s designated agent, that the resident is permanently stationed at that location or is deployed for military service for a period of more than 180 days, to the municipal excise tax collector.

If an eligible resident bought a car in its first year with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $19,500, the resident would save $468.

The exemption was last discussed at a Jan. 17 city council meeting and tabled to the policy committee.

At least two municipalities in Maine, Portland and Oakland, offer the same benefit, with identical language in their ordinances.

Councilor-at-large Laura Seaver said the language of the proposed addition is based on a state statute.The definition of what a vehicle is, as it is defined in the state statute, is mirrored in the proposed addition.

Ward 7 City Councilor Michael Ready said one concern Belanger had raised would be the term “vehicle.” It may be too broad because it includes mobile homes, camper trailers and aircrafts, Ready said, even though it’s based on a state statute.

Ready asked whether there should be concern about both the term and number of vehicles a resident would be eligible to have exempted. Although Seaver initially said if there is a concern among people about the loose definition of “vehicle” that she’d like a legal opinion about making the term more narrow, she conceded by saying the number of exempted vehicles would be so limited that it wouldn’t cause great impact.

“Let’s give it to them,” she said. “I doubt somebody’s going to come in and try to get a dealership worth (of vehicles to exempt) and be deployed. And if the family is still here, and it’s in their name, and their family is using it and that person’s deployed, then let their wife and kids have the car. I’m not worried about it personally.”

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