Monday, May 28, 2007

My Car, My Hassles (Part 4)

So where were we?

In last week's post the car was brought to Ontario and I am now in possession of it. I have a 30 day Nova Scotian trip permit allowing me to drive around. I have yet to register my car in Ontario. I found out that in order to get my Nova Scotian tax back, I have to apply to the CRA. This could take upwards of two months. They want my original Bill of Sale.

Edgar and Milo have something in common: they're both dead. And, for a change, instead of Chloe downloading schematics to Jack, Morris downloaded some schematics to Chloe.

So I'm ready to go and register my car with the MTO. So one day I leave work and head straight there. I take my number and wait. When I'm called up I explain the situation. The worker looks at my driver's licence, bill of sale, and all other pertinent documentation. She notices my birthday is coming up in a couple of months and asks if I'd like to renew my plates so they won't have to be renewed until next year.

Sure, why not?

Then she notices my driver's licence expires soon and asks if I'd like to renew that while I'm there.

Sure, why not?

The list of things I'm doing there, and therefore paying for, keeps piling up. But I might as well take care of it all in one shot. She takes my picture, gives me a temporary licence and tells me the real one will arrive in a few weeks. (Somehow, they can give you a photo licence in about 20 minutes in Nova Scotia, yet it takes Ontario weeks.)

She looks at my bill of sale, and tells me how much tax she'll be charging me. Fair enough. She gives me the final bill and I pay for it. She gives my plates, and even a couple of screw drivers so I can put the plates on my car. Then she informs me the trip permit given to me by the dealership was not valid outside of Nova Scotia. (Not what an earlier MTO employee told me.) But it doesn't matter now. I have the real plates. The car is registered and insured.

I head out to the car and put the rear plate on. In order to put the front plate on I had to first put a plate-holder onto the front of the car. The dealership gave me one of these plate-holders, including instructions on how to attach it. I read the instructions. "Put rivets here and here, and screw onto car there." I'm looking at the rivets and wondering how I get them to where they're supposed to be. I figure the Saturn dealership in Ottawa will know. So I call them.

"Oh, you'll need a rivet gun to attach the plate holder. Do you have a rivet gun?"


"Okay, come in tomorrow. We can do that for you."

So now I have to drive around without a front licence plate on. I wonder if I'll get pulled over? Why couldn't Saturn in Nova Scotia have done this, knowing I'd be out of province? Why couldn't the instructions have mentioned the need for a rivet gun?

The next day I start filling out the form to get my Nova Scotian tax refunded. But something odd is happening. None of the numbers are working out. There is no number on the bill of sale which when multiplied by 14% gives the amount of tax I paid in Nova Scotia. I'm very confused. I call Saturn in Nova Scotia and ask them to help me understand the bill of sale. It would figure that the person I needed to talk to is off sick, and it's Friday. But the person I did talk to was able to help me.

Here is the problem. The numbers on the Bill of Sale are out of order. The order they're listed is not the order in which they're calculated.

This is the order they're listed:
  1. Price of car

  2. Sales tax

  3. License or Transfer fee

  4. Extended Warranty

  5. Tire Environmental Fee

  6. Balance Due (Whatever that means.

  7. Balance Forward (I figure this and the Balance Due is because the Balance Due is the last thing in that column, and the Balance Forward is the first in the next column. It's the same number.)

  8. Less deposit

  9. Balance Owing

  10. Admin Fee

  11. Tire Warranty

  12. Total Financed (AKA: Final price. That which I owe them.)

This is the order in which they're calculated:
  1. Cost of the car

  2. Extended Warranty

  3. Tire Environmental Fee

  4. Admin Fee

  5. Tire Waranty

Take all those things, add them up, and that gives a non-taxed price of the car. Then add the 14% tax on that number. And then add the License or Transfer Fee. Subtract the deposit, then you have the "Total Financed" cost, that which I owe them.

You may have noticed things were a little out of order. See, first they calculated tax, then added the "License or Transfer Fee", but when they listed it on the Bill of Sale they listed the tax second! They listed the "License or Transfer Fee" third.

As a result it's very confusing. The actual cost of the car on which the tax is calculated is not shown anywhere on the Bill of Sale. No wonder the person at the MTO was confused. I still am. (I was hoping she would know better, what with it being her job and all to do that sort of thing.)

So the next day as I was trying to figure out how much tax to get back from Nova Scotia, and comparing it to the tax I paid in Ontario I noticed something was wrong. The tax I paid in Ontario was calculated on the cost of the car plus the Nova Scotian tax. I was paying tax on tax. Worse! I was paying tax on tax that I was going to be getting back!

So I call the MTO. They tell me that once they collect the tax it's out of their hands and to get a refund I need to talk to the Ontario Ministry of Finance. So I call them. They point me towards a form to fill out and send in. Oh yes, and they will need my Bill of Sale.

"@#$@! Will you need the original?"

"No. A copy will do. Why would we need the original?"

"The CRA wanted the original so someone couldn't try to use the same receipt to get a refund multiple times on the same purchase."

"Yeah, but a fake would be easy to make."

"You should work for the CRA."

So then later on in the week I receive a letter from the Ontario Ministry of Finance making sure I was being honest and paying all the taxes I needed to. For some reason I laugh. I find this somehow ironic. I'm not sure how. Maybe it's because they owe me?

Anyway, this brings us to the end of the car stories, I hope. I have yet to receive any refunds, but it's still early. If anything else goes wrong I'm sure I'll write all about it here.

UPDATE: Something did go wrong. I wrote all about it in My Car, My Hassles (Part 5).