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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Structure of State Car Tax Makes No Sense

August 14, 2003

Re "Democrats to Seek Repeal of Car Tax Hike," Aug. 12: The way our state's car tax is structured makes no sense. If the intent is to assess for one's usage of the roads and state services, taxing gasoline and diesel at a higher rate would be a better answer. By doing so, we would probably see less traffic congestion and air pollution. As it stands now, a heavier vehicle, which necessarily causes more wear and tear on our roadways and probably emits higher levels of pollutants, incurs no extra tax burden since the car tax is based on the value and age but not the fuel efficiency of a car.

As for those who oppose a hike in the gas tax because it is regressive for people in the lower-income brackets, they should take heart. The economically challenged do not usually drive a Suburban-size SUV. The current taxation on cars makes no sense either economically or environmentally. It should be scrapped and replaced by a tax that is more equitable.

John T. Chiu

Newport Beach

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The Times is clearly attempting to help Gov. Gray Davis and the Democrats with its Aug. 12 edition. First you give front-page billing to an article that claims the Dems have always wanted to repeal the car tax hike, that it's been in the works for five months. Yeah, sure it has. Then you run an article right below it about how the recall will cost up to $66 million, a number that is highly speculative, contested and fraught with claims that it is very inflated. Lastly, and yet also on the front page, is an article about how Arnold Schwarzenegger's Proposition 187 support could hurt him. Another highly speculative, debatable article.

Steven Pruett

Glendale

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Davis might be able to improve his chances to avoid the recall if he or someone in his office would set the public (and the media) straight with respect to the vehicle registration fee. Davis did not triple the vehicle license tax, as everyone seems to claim. The fee was simply restored to its 1998 level by eliminating an offset that was enacted in 1998 and [went into effect beginning in 1999]. The elimination of this offset is even mandated by the revenue and taxation code if the general fund does not have sufficient money to fund it. How short Californians' memories are.

James M. Forbes

San Francisco

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