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‘Invisible’ CT residents costing municipalities millions

WETHERSFIELD — Cities and towns are losing out on millions of dollars in tax revenue each year, and it's difficult to stop.

The problem stems from Connecticut residents refusing to register their cars here.

How far would you go to save 10 bucks? That’s the difference between a two year registration in Maine and a two year registration in Connecticut. There are nearly 1,500 Connecticut residents who have their cars registered in the Pine Tree state. They are gaming the system but that $10 is just the beginning.

“We’re talking well over 100,000 vehicles statewide,” said John Rainaldi, The Director of Assessment & Collection for Manchester.

Let’s say you move to Connecticut. Who knows about it?

Deputy DMV Comissioner Tony Guerrera said, “How do we know that someone is coming into the state? The DMV doesn’t have that type of information.”

Your license and plate still say you live elsewhere.

“They have 60 days now to change over their registration to the state that they live in,” said Guerrera.

You are legally defined as a resident if you live there for more than six months out of the year.

“The municipalities are losing tax dollars,” said Guerrera.

A lot. Rainaldi said it’s, “The single reason why they were doing it was to avoid property taxes.”

“Well they are a little high I think. It’s expensive to live here,” responded Deborah Shah of Glastonbury.

Manchester has collected $250,000 in vehicle property tax revenue from unregistered and out of state plate violators.

“There are more out there. We do get complaints on these regularly,” said Rainaldi.

But enforcement is difficult, proving it is even harder.

“You’d have to have a pretty good number of individuals going around each town looking for those plates and then cross checking them,” said Guerrera.

With the problem identified, how do you fix it? A centralized digital database is not easy.

“It’s always simple to say it’s an IT fix but we’re talking 169 towns,” said Guerrera.

Improved cross-state communication is key.

“In working with the Connecticut DMV their access to a lot of other states information is not always the greatest,” said Rainaldi.

If you do get caught violating the vehicle registration laws you can be fined up to $1,000.

The state legislature has formed a task force to study the problem they’ll report back to Governor Lamont by January.

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