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Beware Of New (And Sometimes Hidden) Governmental Fees

By David Bakke

avoiding government feesI have recently noticed a few things in my daily life that has led me to believe that our government is doing anything in its power to stick its hand in my pocket and take out more money than ever. Call me a conspiracy theorist if you like, but this economic recession has affected all of us, including governments. Budget shortfalls it seems are daily fodder on our news broadcasts.

Therefore, I think it is up to us to do what we can to avoid these attempts by governments to separate us from our money. Some ploys are more blatant than others, but they all exist. I say this with complete confidence because all of the following incidents have occurred recently in my own life. I am writing this article for you so that maybe you can avoid some of these situations before they happen to you.  Here are a few examples of the new fees governments are trying to force upon us:

Registatration/Tag Fees

I recently got my registration renewal notice in the mail. Keep in mind that one of the cars I drive is a 1994 Toyota Tercel, so the renewal fee for this automobile is usually less than $20 if you can believe that. This year, the renewal notice came with an already added-in fee of $37 for a new tag. Well, guess what? I don’t need a new tag for my little “classic.” If I got a new license plate, that plate may be worth more than the car itself!

I called up two different numbers to inquire. The first lady, after some hemming and hawing, told me that no, a new tag was not required, and if I didn’t want one, that I should just cross out this fee and pay the difference. I then contacted the second person to verify. This person stated that this new plate WAS in fact a requirement according to a legally passed bill. She then basically told me I had to pay it and to call my Congressman if I disagreed. Guess what? I crossed through the amount, paid the difference, and it went though fine.

If I hadn’t been paying attention, I very well may have unnecessarily spent this $37.

Forced Waste Pick-up

I live in an unincorporated part of my county, whatever that means. Waste pick-up options have always been up to us as homeowners. And actually, we used to have the choice of not having it at all which is what I chose; I just disposed of my trash myself. Recently, the county forced a new waste disposal company on all of us at a higher expense than other companies. They rolled the fees into our property taxes and were also nice enough to bill us in advance for all of 2011. I fought City Hall as much as I could on this, but lost.

No More Tax-Free Holidays

For the past several years, we could always count on one or two weekends where we could make purchases without having to pay sales tax. Guess what was conspicuously left off of this year’s calendar? You guessed it—the tax free weekends. I guess our state government likes us—but not that much.

Traffic Violations

Finally, and probably most importantly, beware of traffic violations. About three weeks ago, a co-worker of mine brought in one of those viral emails which stated that beginning August 1st of this year, our highway patrols and police officers would be pulling over one driver per hour for speeding. They expected to raise more than $8 million in new revenues from this initiative. I dismissed it as part of the internet “rumor mill” but here is a short list of some recent events:

  • A friend of mine was pulled over for speeding—going four miles over the posted limit.
  • I was pulled over for not wearing a seat belt—in my own small neighborhood.
  • I have noticed a significantly higher number of police “roadblocks” checking for insurance info, registrations, etc.

Watch Out

In short, Big Brother is out there in full force, and doing his best to solve his own financial woes at the expense of you. Don’t be a victim.

Have you had any recent experiences lately leading you to believe that the government is looking to you in order to increase their revenues? Feel free to share below.

(photo credit: wwworks)

David Bakke
David started his own personal finance blog, YourFinances101, in June of 2009 and published his first book on ways to save more and spend less called "Don't Be A Mule..." Since then he has been a regular contributor for Money Crashers. He lives just outside Atlanta, GA and most all of his free time is taken up by his amazing three year old son, Nicholas.

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  • Molly Mo

    Yeah, it’s frustrating. Where I live, permits — e.g. for garage sales — keep going up. But perhaps it’s the least of all evils (so to speak). State & local gov’ts aren’t immune from the recession & lots are experiencing budget woes. I think I’d rather pay more in fees etc than in taxes or see layoffs. I was surprised recently when I went to call a state agency & they had gotten rid of their toll free lines due to budget cuts. I’m sure we’ll see more of that — cuts in service coupled with higher fees here and there.

    • David

      Molly Mo

      Yes, permit fees have been on the rise as well too, and that’s a great addtition to the list.

      Thanks for chiming in!

  • Kira Botkin

    I can understand the upset at the forced purchase of a new tag, but tax-free holidays are a bonus and not a right, people were probably dumping their trash in illegal or harmful ways, and I don’t see how you should get to not follow seatbelt laws if you’re near home. If you don’t want to get a speeding ticket, don’t go over the speed limit.

  • http://www.abczoohome.com Amanda

    I recently got my vehicle registration bill so I double checked it and *whew* found it to be the same $52.80 it’s been for 10 years. We still had our tax-free holiday in August (Texas). I’ve read about your trash issue and I feel for you. I’m not sure if my town requires weekly (paid) trash-pickup because we would have opted for it anyway, but recently my very small town opened up the town disposal area to residents for free drop-off of anything, especially helpful for large items or tree branches, the kinds of things the regular pickup wouldn’t take. Previously there was a charge per car/truck load and the city has taken a huge budgetary hit for this, but apparently they decided the city clean-up was more important than the cash. I know our traffic violation fees are through the roof though. A rolling stop my husband did a few months ago cost more than $200, when the same violation in a nearby city would have been under $50. So I’m lucky that we are still avoiding these pitfalls where I live, clearly.

    But I agree 100% with Kira; however many people they are trying to pull over for traffic violations, the fact remains that they *are* violations. Argue the efficacy or morality of the laws, but as long as they are laws there’s nothing wrong with the police citing people who aren’t complying.

    • Kira Botkin

      Yeah, I just have a particular personal issue with people not wearing seatbelts – I used to work with organ transplant patients, and we had a morbid joke among the staff that if they repealed the mandatory seatbelt laws time on the wait list would plummet dramatically, since a lot of organ donors end up donating after a car accident. The seatbelt fine is essentially a pre-payment on how much more your (likely state or federally funded) ER is going to have to spend taking care of you if you are in even the most minor collision, assuming you survive.

    • David

      Amanda

      I guess the point I was trying to make (and maybe I didn’t make it very well) was that it just seemed to me that these violations never used to get you a ticket.

      It seems only that now that the state is in the middle of a budget crunch that they are deciding to do their job.

      Here in Atlanta, you can typically expect a 5-7 mile “buffer” regarding speed limits. Its just the way that it is.

      But as I said, for now, not anymore….

      Thanks for joining the conversation

  • Duh!

    Mr. Bakke, I wouldn’t call getting a traffic ticket as “…new fees governments are trying to force upon us” as you stated in your second paragraph. If you can’t afford, or don’t want to pay the price for the ticket, then don’t violate the traffic laws. How much leeway should you expect? 10 mph over the speed limit? No seatbelt ticket if you’re less than 5 miles from your house? Do you tell your kids it’s okay to break the law if it’s only “a little bit”?

    • David

      Hello there

      As I stated, I guess I should have put in my post that for the past 15 years that I’ve lived in Atlanta, going 7 or so mies overthe limit never used to get you a ticket.

      And no, I don’t think there should be leeway regarding seatbelts, but I think anyone might be a little surprised at getting a ticket for not having their seatbelt on (yet) wehen they are less than 100 feet from their own driveway.

      Of course, I was breaking the law and I should expect consequences if I am.

      Thanks for chiming in…

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