Wednesday, May 22, 2013
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Capt. Jerry Locke of the Berwick Police Department said from 2008 to 2012, officers issued only 28 summonses to people who improperly registered their vehicles in New Hampshire. However, he estimated that in that time, hundreds more scofflaws were given warnings and ended up registering their cars properly to avoid the fine.
"We're looking for voluntary compliance," he said. "Once they realize it's cheaper (than paying a fine), they usually take care of it."
The problem might be more acute in border towns, but as a statewide issue, excise tax evasion is minor, according to Mike Allen with Maine Revenue Services. In 2010, the Legislature asked the agency to look into the problem. Allen said eight months of study uncovered a total of 66 cases, according to a December 2010 report.
"Did we find some people? Yeah, but not enough to say, 'We should devote (state) resources to this,'" he said.
Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said excise tax evasion may be a real problem for towns, but his office does not have the resources to police it.
New Hampshire authorities have no incentive to discourage Maine residents from registering cars in their state, since it means more revenue for New Hampshire.
Unlike Maine, New Hampshire also does not mandate that owners buy insurance on their vehicles.