RENEE ORDWAY

Excise tax can be a painful rite of passage

Posted April 05, 2013, at 5:13 p.m.
Renee Ordway
Courtesy of Renee Ordway
Renee Ordway

Our daughter learned about excise tax this week. I’m not going to lie, I believe a tear trickled down her cheek.

Jacyi turns 20 next week, is a sophomore in college, works hard during the summer, saves her money and made the dean’s list this year. She was able to pay for a good majority of the car, but she still needed some help from us.

It was time for her to have it.

Perhaps wise enough to understand the futility, she didn’t complain that she was not given a car in high school and agreed she could survive at least her freshman year of college without one.

In return, we tried to be generous with our own cars when she was home. Like many college-age kids, she mostly comes out at night, and while we don’t as much anymore, it made sharing our vehicles not terribly inconvenient.

My husband, who some of you may know from this column as Banker Rick, was quite successful at delaying the car-buying event through nearly the end of her sophomore year.

During the year when the subject came up, he’d discuss a few thoughts with her and then mumble something about “let’s start thinking about it and we’ll figure out our best option.” Then he would disappear from the room.

This plan worked for awhile, but she finally got me on her side. So when my husband walked from the room, I started to follow him.

Of course as a 19-year-old, she certainly knows much more about most things than me, but I still know her father better and as such, she pulled off the car lot on Thursday afternoon in a little red Toyota Corolla.

But as we began the actual quest for a car earlier this week, I learned that while she wanted a car – needed a car – she was not liking the idea that said car was going to have a negative effect on her bank account.

She clearly is a chip off Banker Rick’s shoulder.

We searched used car lots, scanned the classifieds and Craig’s List.

While some people, including myself, would be looking at the size of the car, the color of the car, the interior, the maintenance record and its grade in Consumer Reports, Jayci could see only the price tag.

“I don’t care what color it is,” she told one dealer. “As long as it has four tires, a roof and runs well. That’s all I care about.”

In the end, we opted to go with a lease. Good or bad we shall find out. The idea that she (we) would not have to worry about maintenance costs on an older vehicle with high mileage was appealing to all of us.

Of course she liked the idea of driving a brand new vehicle, but not as much as the idea that she would be paying for her car monthly and would not have to see her coveted bank account drained in one day.

She immediately latched onto the idea and gave a huge smile when she pulled from the lot in the new car and with a few thousand comforting dollars still in the bank.

But just like a fun night out with friends, reality looks a bit different in the morning light.

We had talked about insurance, which we’ll pay for as her 20th birthday present, and we had talked about registration.

Apparently we had failed to educate her properly about excise tax, especially excise tax on a brand new car purchased in Maine.

“I don’t even know what excise tax is,” she whined — and yes it most definitely was a whine — upon learning the toll of that little subtraction on her bank book.

It was a painful, but quick lesson and one clearly forgotten when the clerk handed over her first license plates.

Fully-insured, taxed and with shiny new plates, she drove off for the afternoon in her own car.

I’m not going to lie. I believe a tear trickled down my cheek.

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