The Montana license plate scam is a way for owners of high-end luxury to avoid paying sales tax by simply opening an LLC in Montana—which doesn’t charge car sales tax—and registering cars there. But the state of Georgia feels that this is cheating, so they’re cracking down. Here’s VinWiki’s discussion with an officer of the state’s department of revenue, who breaks down how Georgia is turning up the heat on the rich Instagram bros.
The WSB-TV 2 news channel out of Atlanta got a tip about a state investigation into residents avoiding the state’s one-time Title Ad Valorem Tax by registering cars in Montana, and learned about how Georgia is working to put a stop to it. Here’s a look at the investigation into a scheme that the news site says allows a 2004 Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale owner to pay $213.95 instead of $10,290 to register their vehicle:
Vinwiki, the YouTube channel that tells cool stories about cars and car culture, spoke with one of the officers in the state investigation, Josh Waites, and he broke down how Georgia tracked down the folks taking advantage of Montana’s laws, and arguably of the state of Georgia:
Waites begins by saying that he and his fellow officers have known about the “Montana scheme” for years, and that their goal with this whole investigation was to put an end to it in their state.
He breaks down how Georgia has been tracking folks engaging in the scheme, saying his team worked with the state of Montana, and was able to get the names of the corporate officers of the small LLCs set up in the state, as well as the names of the LLCs themselves. With that, they could learn if those names matched up with Georgia residents.
Waites mentions a few easy indicators that a Georgia resident is engaging in the scheme. For example, if the name of the corporation is the name of a Georgia resident, that’s a good way to track a suspect down. Another indicator is if a supercar registered in Montana has Georgia Bulldogs-themed license plate.
The Department of Revenue officer also says that his team has been cracking down on dealers who have registered vehicle in Montana, despite knowing—whether via their customer’s driver’s license or insurance information—that their owners were Georgia residents. Working with dealers on this issue is important, Waites says, because it’s the dealer who’s in charge of obtaining the TAVT tax.
Waites also says he’s gotten pictures from folks who attend local car shows of exotics with Montana plates, and he says his team has worked with the toll authority to get a list of all Montana-registered cars that have a Peach Pass—a little transponder on the windshield that allows for digital toll collection.
He mentions in the video two individuals who had allegedly bought over 50 cars in the last four years, and who would have paid over $1.6 million to have their vehicles registered in Georgia. One of the ways his team found these folks, Waites says, by following them on Instagram, as they were both active on social media.
Which is not surprising for an exotic car owner.
Waites actually seems to be fairly reasonable about he and the state are going to enforce the rules, saying: “We, at the end of the day, want to help [car owners] get right.” People who buy expensive cars, he recommends, need to just factor in the tax instead of defrauding the state.