* Lawrence Dietz, with his suggestion to clamp down on Californians who fail to pay their vehicle license fee (Commentary, Aug. 24) is on to something. However, in fingering vehicle registration dodgers Dietz has found just the tip of a very large iceberg of uncollected bills owed by scofflaws.
State and local government are owed $6 billion in funds that range from delinquent student loans to unpaid court fines and welfare overpayments. Most of the money--about $14 billion--is owed to counties, at least $550 million to L.A. County alone.
Because California has no centralized system of collecting this money I sponsored legislation, authored by Sen. David Roberti, to empower the Franchise Tax Board to go after deadbeat debtors. SB 805 would allow the state to treat these uncollected bills like unpaid taxes and give the FTB the power to attach wages, bank accounts and personal property in forcing deadbeats to pay up.
State of California
* First, we pay income taxes. Then when we buy a car, we pay sales tax for the privilege of spending money that has already been taxed. Finally, we pay the highest DMV fees in the nation to license and drive the car.
Dietz seems perturbed that not everyone is a willing cash cow for the state. Make DMV fees fair and reasonable, and the problem of “scofflaws” will be solved, without turning neighbor against neighbor.
* Rather than complaining about his neighbor, who perhaps cannot afford the cost of keeping his vehicle registration up to date, your writer should have used the forum of your newspaper to urge a reduction in vehicle taxes, registration and smog check fees.
We should not become a society where only the “better classes” can afford to drive to the beaches, the mountains and the deserts, while ordinary people and the poor must stay in town or cram themselves onto overcrowded public transportation for a trip to some overcrowded city park.
THOMAS A. SCHENACH
* Dietz makes a valid point and a good suggestion about people who register their cars out of state. Now, how about someone coming up with the answer to this: Every two years, people renewing their California registration must prove they’ve passed the smog check. But they don’t have to show proof of insurance, even though California law requires insurance. Why is this?