“I passed it, and find it rather amusing now, but not at the time,” said Mr. Leith, a full-timer based in Pflugerville, Texas.
At an RV insurance seminar in the fall, Mr. Leith and his wife, Wilma, learned of Texas’ special license requirements for motorhomes that weigh more than 26,000 pounds. They had been driving with standard Class C auto licenses.
“My registration says my unit weighs 24,114 pounds,” Mr. Leith said. “But that’s the dry weight. The gross vehicle weight rating determines what license you have to have.”
The Leiths’ diesel-powered Fleetwood Discovery, 38 feet 11 inches long, has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 27,910 pounds. They tow a Saturn VUE that weighs approximately 3,300 pounds.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), drivers whose motorhomes’ GVWR exceeds 26,000 pounds should hold an exempt (noncommercial) Class B or Class A license.
A Class B is required if the motorhome does not tow anything, or tows a trailer with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less. A Class A is required if the combined weight of the vehicle and any towed vehicle is more than 26,000 pounds and the towed vehicle has a GVWR greater than 10,000 pounds.
“I’ve been a full-timer based in Texas since March 2003 and was not aware of the special license requirement,” Mr. Leith said. “I wonder how many others aren’t aware of it either, in their states. I’m told many states have similar license requirements.”
Beth Roberts of the commercial drivers’ license (CDL) section at DPS headquarters described the requirements for obtaining a Texas exempt Class B or Class A license. “When a driver goes to the driver license office to upgrade their license, they will need to fill out the CDL-2 form, which states that they seek a Class A or B license that is exempted by the Texas Commercial Driver License Act. The option they will need to check is number 4, for “˜A recreational vehicle that is driven for personal use.’
“They will be exempt from various fees, laws, and regulations that apply to CDL holders,” Ms. Roberts continued, “but they will still need to take the core CDL written test and a driving test in the class of vehicle they would like to have on their license. If the vehicle has air brakes, they will also need to take the air brakes test.”
Each test costs $10.
The Leiths have talked with others in their Fleetwood Discovery owners club about the requirements for the noncommercial Class B test. “Friends of ours had to do the air brakes test in other Texas cities, but they didn’t have to parallel park,” Mr. Leith said. “And examiners took them out in the country for the road test.”
For specific information on the testing, Ms. Roberts advises Texas residents to contact their local Texas DPS driver license office that administers the tests.
Virginia might tax stored RVs
Self-storage owners in Virginia may have to provide their local commissioner of revenue with the names and addresses of out-of-state residents who store recreation vehicles at their outdoor storage facilities.
House Bill 2289 passed the General Assembly in late February. If the governor signs it, the bill would take effect July 1. As of January 1, 2010, RVs and boats placed in self-storage by out-of-state residents would be taxed by the state.
According to a report in The News & Advance (Lynchburg, Virginia), Representative Ben Cline (R-Rockbridge County) said he sponsored the measure because many of the stored vehicles were not being taxed since the owners live in other states. Virginia residents who own RVs and boats are taxed on their vehicles.
By law, revenue commissioners are not permitted inside the storage facilities to collect license plate numbers and other information about the vehicles.
Out-of-state RV owners who leave their vehicles parked at campgrounds are subject to tax under existing law, if those campgrounds are accessible to the public.
Motorhome buyers get federal tax incentive
Buy a new motorhome through the end of 2009, and you can deduct a portion of the sales tax or excise tax on your federal taxes, if you meet income criteria. The deduction provision is included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the $787 billion stimulus legislation signed into law February 13 by President Barack Obama.
Individuals with an adjusted gross income of up to $125,000 are eligible for the deduction. Joint filers with an income of up to $250,000 are eligible.
Customers can deduct the sales tax paid on the first $49,500 of the purchase price. Thus, someone who purchases a $50,000 motorhome or a $150,000 motorhome, in a state that has a 7.5 percent tax rate, could deduct $3,712 from their 2009 taxes.
A prior version of the Senate-passed stimulus package applied only to passenger automobiles and light trucks. RV manufacturers in Indiana lobbied for the tax provision for motorhomes, with the support of two Indiana congressmen.
The provision does not apply to trailers or towables.
Indiana tax credit bill advances
Indiana House Bill 1490, which would exempt sales tax on recreation vehicles and cargo trailers for out-of-state consumers, passed the Indiana House of Representatives on February 25, 2009.
“This bill will help the RV business draw customers from out-of-state and stay competitive,” said state representative Tim Neese (R-Elkhart), who coauthored the bill with representatives Wes Culver (R-Goshen) and Jackie Walorski (R-Jimtown). “The industry is important to many people in Elkhart and northern Indiana, and this bill will help stimulate Indiana’s economy in these hard times.”
“Northern Indiana needs this credit for RVs now more than ever,” Representative Walorski said. “This bill, if successful, will work hand-in-hand with the federal stimulus money to invigorate our economy and reduce the unemployment rate in our part of Indiana.”
HB 1490, which received unanimous bipartisan support in the Indiana House, was heading to the state senate next for consideration.
Representative Culver and Representative Walorski have coauthored a similar measure, HB 1533, to create these sales tax exemptions.