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Old 01-06-2003, 07:07 AM
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Why does my neighbor's car have dealer plates?

He's not a car dealer, but he's been driving a car with dealer plates for a couple years. I suspect it's a way to avoid sales or excise tax, but is there a better explanation?
Old 01-06-2003, 07:41 AM
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You're probably correct, but there's one other possible reason. My state, Massachusetts, used to have a limit on the number of times one could transfer a registration and required the user to get dealer plates if that number was exceeded. This was 30+ years ago, but the rule may still exist.
Old 01-06-2003, 09:30 AM
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I know the daughter of a car dealer. When she was in college she drove a car with dealer plates, but had to take it back and get a different (used) car every three months. I have the impression that there was some legal limit to how long a car could be driven with dealer plates, but I don't know for sure.
Old 01-06-2003, 09:31 AM
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Typically someone with dealer plates either works at a dealership and drives a demo, or is registered with the state as a dealer. A registered dealer does pay fees, so it's not a free ride, but it can be particularly convenient for someone who buys and sells several cars a year, in that he doesn't have to register each one separately and wait for a new title.

Several years ago Missouri enacted a law requiring registered dealers to actually have a business location that met certain criteria. This eliminated a number of individuals who were "dealers" strictly for their own convenience, as opposed to really running a dealership. I'm sure there's plenty of variation on the laws from state to state.
Old 01-06-2003, 09:53 AM
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I work for a European car company. They provide me with a car, (actually 2-3 per year as the company has a mileage cap, when I have to get another one) I drive on a distributor plate. It is like a dealer plate except it says distributor on it.
In both cases (and several others that the California DMV issues)
I can switch the same plate between cars. In other words the plate floats. I know that in some states when you buy a new car the plate is transfered to the new car. That requires DMV paperwork. All I have to do is grab a wrench. My registration card lists the plate number, but no VIN.

It's not all sweetness and light, however. I have to have a special occupational license from the DMV, and the IRS taxes me on the personal use of the car, just like it was income.
Old 01-06-2003, 11:56 AM
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Some above may have misunderstood your question. By "dealer plate", do you mean the paper tag they give you when you buy a new car? Some states, including my state of Texas, issue metal dealer plates to auto dealers to use on their demos, but I'm not sure that's what you're talking about.

A common scam in South Texas (at least it used to be common, I haven't heard of it in a while) involved the paper tags. You go "buy" a car by giving the dealer, oh let's say, $300. He then sets you up with a car with paper tags. Now, your deal with the salesman is that you pay $50 a week for the car. As the paper tags expire, he gives you a new one if you're paid up. If you don't pay, the police do his repo work for him. The car never gets registered in the new "owner's" name. Some people don't want a lot of legal entanglements or paperwork, if you get my drift.

Is this more in line with what you meant?
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Old 01-06-2003, 12:08 PM
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No, Drum God, they understand the question. These are metal dealer plates -- they kind they slap on when you go for a test drive or take a loaner car for the day.
Old 01-06-2003, 12:12 PM
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I can't read KenP's mind, Drum God, but what you describe are called temporary tags. I've never heard anyone call them "plates" of any kind.

I wasn't aware of that scam, though. I bet a salesman could get into a heap of trouble if he were found out.
Old 01-06-2003, 12:14 PM
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$&#*@^% cross-posting!
Old 01-06-2003, 12:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by KenP
No, Drum God, they understand the question. These are metal dealer plates -- they kind they slap on when you go for a test drive or take a loaner car for the day.
Okay, it was just a thought.

As far as getting into trouble with the scam, it's trouble for the "buyer" as well. I've hard of deals where, after the agreed-upon payment was met, the dealer took back the car anyway. The customer has no recourse since the whole illegal scheme was never on paper anyway. Sadly, there are many people who will take advantage of the poorly-educated.
Old 01-06-2003, 07:35 PM
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KenP, why don't you ask your neighbor why they have perpetual dealer plates?
Old 01-06-2003, 11:21 PM
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Oh, sure, handy, spoil all our fun. Then what would we have to post about?
Old 01-07-2003, 12:58 AM
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I had wondered about this as well. There seems to be quite a flurry of those "paper tags" around here. If it is a common scam in Texas, do you think they could let the geniuses here in Georgia know about it? Law here states that when you buy a car, you transfer your old tag. If this is the very first car, you have 30 days to purchase a permanent (metal) tag. Yet I constanly see paper tags which have expired, and I also see quite a few older model obviously family cars (car seats - soccer stickers) with the metal "dealer " plates. I would ask, but I do not know anyone personally to ask.
Old 01-07-2003, 06:55 AM
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Why not ask the neighbor why? Because before posting, I was pretty sure it was a scam of some kind, and it seemed un-neighborly to call him on it. Now that I've read the responses, I think there may be some legitimate reason. I'll ask sometime if I can work it into a conversation, but am not going to knock on his door and demand an explanation.

Thanks to everyone who responded.
Old 01-07-2003, 03:19 PM
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Re working it into conversation: Maybe you could play it like you hadn't known before and just noticed it on the spot. Say you're having a conversation in his driveway, or garage, or wherever he keeps his car. You're in the middle of a sentence, talking about football or tools or the germ theory of disease or whatever. As you talk, your eyes wander, and then your sentence sort of fades out mid-word as you stare at his car. He says: what? And you say, Huh. Just noticed, you have dealer plates. Didn't think you're a dealer. What's that about? Y'know, idle curiosity.

It depends on your relationship with your neighbor, but I think it's more likely to elicit an honest response if the question is off the cuff, in the moment, rather than something like, "Hey, I've been meaning to ask you," a question on an agenda, like you've been obsessing about it or whatever. Not that you are, but you know what I mean.
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