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How old’s old enough? States consider revising criteria for antique vehicle registration

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Photo by Trenten Kelley.

While one state legislator’s attempt to restrict the definition of antique vehicle has been negated, another state legislature intends to do something similar, rolling back the cutoff date to 30 years.

Connecticut’s proposed changes to its rules for registering antique cars, buried toward the end of H.B. 7050, An Act Concerning Enhancements To Municipal Finance And Accountability, would make two significant changes. First, it would amend the state’s definition of antique, rare, or special interest motor vehicle from those 20 years or older to those 30 years or older; second, it would lift the state property tax cap on antique, rare, or special interest motor vehicles from $500 to $1,000. Any vehicle registered as an antique before October 31 would be grandfathered in under current 20-year cutoff.

Current state law in Connecticut defines antique, rare, or special interest motor vehicles as those “being preserved because of historic interest and which (are) not altered or modified from the original manufacturer’s specifications.” Any motor vehicle in Connecticut is subject to annual local property tax rates on 70 percent of its average retail value; only antique vehicles benefit from a property tax cap.

Rolling back the cutoff date would thus reduce the number of collector car owners in the state who could take advantage of the antique vehicle tax cap and in turn (and in combination with the lifted tax cap) increase revenue for the state.

Introduced earlier this month, H.B. 7050, part of the governor’s budget recommendations, has been sent to the state’s Joint Committee on Finance, Revenue and Bonding.

The Connecticut attempt to redefine antique cars comes on the heels of Arkansas’s H.B. 1547, a bill that would have changed that state’s cutoff date for antique vehicle registration from 25 to 45 years old, had the legislator who suggested it not withdrawn the bill.

While current law permits a one-time registration fee of $7 per antique vehicle in Arkansas – as opposed to a $23 annual fee for non-antique vehicles – Representative Jack Fortner’s intent for H.B. 1547 seemed less to increase state revenues (as SEMA argued when it described the bill as a “cash grab”) and more to align state law with his personal definition of antique.

“The intent then was to honor and respect the collector-car hobby and vintage cars,” Fortner, a collector car enthusiast himself, told Arkansas Online. “I don’t think anything good happened in the auto field after ’72.”

KATV reported that Fortner, who introduced the bill last Tuesday, withdrew it on Friday after a wave of backlash against it.