How can I register my car in DC?
May 18, 2011 5:16 PM   Subscribe

DC/RI DMV Filter: My car is registered in Rhode Island, and the registration and title are in my dad's name. I have been driving my car for years in RI and even gave my dad some money for it a few years ago. How do I register my car in DC?

I've read this and this - very helpful but I still have more questions:

1. I thought I could use the gift from parent to child excise tax exemption (PDF) but the gift exemption form can seemingly only be used "if the vehicle currently has a DC title" (PDF). Can I still use this exemption somehow? If not how can I get the title in my name without having to pay?

2. If the best way to do this is to transfer the title from a RI title in my dad's name to a RI title in my name (and then get that mailed to me in DC) what is the best way to do the transfer? (Ex. gift or $1 sale? Other?)

3. I'm guessing I can't get this done before I lose my parking space on June 1st. I need to register to get street parking - I'll have to park my car with friends 50 miles into Virginia in the mean time. Any ideas for other places to park which are metro accessible?

4. Can I get my car inspected now and then go to the DMV to register once the title comes through? What forms do I need to have for inspection?
posted by catquas to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total)
Sounds like you should re-title in RI. From a federal tax standpoint there's no appreciable difference between a $1 sale and a gift if the car has any real value - a transfer of property that isn't at appropriate market value is a gift. The question is whether this is going to trigger a problem in RI because they believe you're trying to avoid paying sales tax and/or any sort of personal property tax the state may have. Sounds like you should just use the gift mechanism.
posted by phearlez at 7:17 PM on May 18, 2011

Thanks for the answer. The gift mechanism in your link sounds like I would actually have to be present to transfer the title. It think I'd rather just pay the excise tax than go to RI just to transfer the title - I don't think my car is worth that much so the tax might not be that high.
posted by catquas at 7:50 PM on May 18, 2011

I don't think my car is worth that much so the tax might not be that high.

Heh. I've heard of the DMV basically saying "naw. I don't believe the amount you say you bought it for, we're going to take a look at the fair market value and we'll have you pay the tax on that"

but yeah, as far as any state is concerned it is not *your* car, so you'll need to work with the RI DMV to get this taken care of, otherwise you're going to go into a DC DMV and they'll just call up the RI DMV. It'll be much faster if your father just goes in and possibly has them call you up (I've had a friend do that and it seemed to work, but that was in WI)
posted by zombieApoc at 6:23 AM on May 19, 2011

Well the rate is 6% on fair market value for the typical car (the division is on weight & you're probably not above 1.5 ton) so checking the blue book is likely a good way to get an idea of what you'll get hit with. If it's an older car selling for $5000 then you're talking $300. A bummer but not an abnormal hit compared to most states.

It certainly is worth keeping in perspective if you're risking tickets by trying to avoid it. I just got hit with a $50 ticket in VA because I wasn't on top of my inspection sticker.
posted by phearlez at 9:45 AM on May 19, 2011

DC resident here. I don't think you need to re-title in RI. I've "inherited" two cars from my father over the years- both titled in PA. All we had to do was sign the sale part of the PA title in the presence of a notary, and that was as good as gold at the DMV. DC will issue you a new title.

If you can get you and your father's signature on the title, notarized, you could have this done the next day. My second time around I had the car registered AND inspected in 45 minutes, which is some sort of land speed record, I think. As long as you walk in with all the required forms and are polite, it'll be pretty easy.

Shoot me a memail if you have any questions. You're probably out of luck on the gift thing, though. Easier just to pay the tax, because they WILL hit you with the blue book value.
posted by zap rowsdower at 12:57 PM on May 19, 2011

Thanks for the answers!

Yeah, I would like to not pay the tax if possible - really once I start adding up these costs I'm not sure if it is worth it to keep my car (plus it doesn't make sense that I should pay tax at this point - if we had simply switched the title and registration when the car became mine, I woulnd't have had to pay then or now).

I'm trying to figure out the blue book value they would use for the tax. Kelly Blue Book has Trade-In Value, Private Party Value, and Suggested Retail Value, and Suggested Retail Value is only available for cars in Excellent condition (mine is in either Good or Fair condition). Does anyone know which value applies here?

I found out that this probably can get done at the RI DMV, but it may take a while to get everything worked out. Any ideas for somewhere safe to park in the mean time?
posted by catquas at 1:28 PM on May 19, 2011

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