Thoughts on RFRA in Indiana

The text of the law can be found here, pay attention to Section 8 which is the only part of the law that grants anything and is almost verbatim the same text found in the 19 other States and Federal RFRA

I have had to use the Texas version Title 5 section 110.003 myself in the past in a battle against the City of Temple back in 2009 because of their SSN requirement to turn on water. 

Below is my email exchange:

from: Lucky 225 <>
date: Wed, Apr 15, 2009 at 2:24 PM
subject: Water in your city, SSN “Required”?

I recently called the Water company to find out how to turn on water as I am a new resident to your city and was appauled to find out aSocial Security Number is required.  The lady I spoke with said it was “policy.”  No one could tell me any statute that specifically required such information.  The city of temple‘s website has an SSN Privacy Policy( document, that also does not cite a statute, and the Privacy Policy as such is a violation of the Privacy Act of 1974, as the water is ran by the city, a government entity.  I have a religious objection to Social Security Numbers, and I should not have to file an application for a Social Security Card to get WATER, an ESSENTIAL NEED, in my residence.  It is absurd that I can get a Driver License to operate a motor vehicle by simply filling out a DL-13 form swearing that I don’t have a Social Security Number, but I can not get water, an essential need for my residence — as this is the first interaction I’ve had with the city government as a new resident, I am not impressed.  Please note that there is no law that requires ANYONE to apply for a Social Security Number in order to live or work in the United States, requiring me to apply for a VOLUNTARY government program ran by the Federal Government that conflicts with my deep rooted religious beliefs is unacceptable, I’m sure I am not the ONLY person in the City of Temple who lives without a Social Security Number and requires water for their residence, perhaps a class action lawsuit is in order.

from: Lucky 225 <>
date: Wed, Apr 15, 2009 at 10:49 PM
subject: Re: Water in your city, SSN “Required”?

.Please note you have a duty under Texas Utilities Code 186.002 to furnish water to the public as it is essential to life, health and safety of your residents — Your “policy” of refusing to offer water to a resident because he has a religious objection to Social Security Numbers and refuses to apply for or furnish a Social Security Number may be contrary to public policy under Tx Utilities Code186.002, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in addition to the Privacy Act of 1974 as you still have not informed me of any statute that would require me to furnish such a number for your service.

Texas Utilities Code

Sec. 186.001.  DEFINITION.  In this subchapter, “public utility” means and includes a private corporation that does business in this state and has the right of eminent domain, a municipality, or a state agency, authority, or subdivision engaged in the business of:

(1)  generating, transmitting, or distributing electric energy to the public;

(2)  producing, transmitting, or distributing natural or artificial gas to the public; or

(3)  furnishing  water to the public.

Sec. 186.002.  POLICY.  (a)  Continuous service by a public utility is essential to the life, health, and safety of the public. A person’swilful interruption of that service is a public calamity that cannot be endured.

(b)  A public utility is dedicated to public service. The primary duty of a public utility, including its management and employees, is to maintain continuous and adequate service at all times to protect the safety and health of the public against the danger inherent in the interruption of service.

(c)  Each court and administrative agency of this state shall:

(1)  recognize the policy stated in this section; and

(2)  interpret and apply this subchapter in accordance with that policy

Sec. 186.003.  ENFORCEMENT BY EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT.  In accordance with Section 186.002, the governor, and the department of the executive branch of government under the governor’s direction, shall exercise all power available under the constitution and laws of this state to protect the public from dangers incident to an interruption in water , electric, or gas utility service in this state that occurs because of a violation of this subchapter.
(emphasis added)

date: Wed, Apr 15, 2009 at 11:52 PM
subject: Re: Water in your city, SSN “Required”?
I typically do not respond to unsigned emails on any matter. This is such a ridiculous email, that I had to at least see if this is a real request. You need to provide your name and address to prove that you live in the city and are in the process of making an application for a water connection with the city before I waste the time of the city staff in doing any research on this issue.
Bill Jones
City of Temple
from: Lucky 225 <>
date: Thu, Apr 16, 2009 at 2:29 AM
subject: Re: Water in your city, SSN “Required”?

For your information this was a VERY real request, the only thing that is RIDICULOUS here is your agency’s failure to comply with the Privacy Act of 1974 (AVAILABLE AT  which states:

5 USC 552a

 Agency Requirements.— 
Each agency that maintains a system of rec­ords shall—

inform each individual whom it asks to supply
information, on the form which it uses to collect the information or on
a separate form that can be retained by the individual—

the authority (whether granted by statute, or by
executive order of the President) which authorizes the solicitation of
the information and whether disclosure of such information is mandatory
or voluntary;

 Disclosure of Social Security Number

    Section 7 of Pub. L. 93-579 provided that:
    ``(a)(1) It shall be unlawful for any Federal, State or local 
government agency to deny to any individual any right, benefit, or 
privilege provided by law because of such individual's refusal to 
disclose his social security account number.
    ``(2) the [The] provisions of paragraph (1) of this subsection shall 
not apply with respect to--
        ``(A) any disclosure which is required by Federal statute, or
        ``(B) the disclosure of a social security number to any Federal, 
    State, or local agency maintaining a system of records in existence 
    and operating before January 1, 1975, if such disclosure was 
    required under statute or regulation adopted prior to such date to 
    verify the identity of an individual.

As you can see from the text above, clearly copy and pasted from 5 USC 552a,
you can not deny an individual a right, benefit or privlidged provided by law
solely because I refuse to disclose a social security account number, and your
application form for water does not cite any authority that requires the collection
of my Social Security Number for the right, benefit or "privlidge" of having water
at my residence.  It shouldn't matter WHO I am, any individual is aforded that right
when requesting the "benefit or privlidge" of having water from your agency, and your
unprofessional and insulting reply which still lacks an authoritive citation that
allows you to collect or require a social security number for water from your city
just goes to show what type of a City government I may be dealing with, it certainly
isn't going to make me feel comfortable enough to disclose my information now, I 
haven't even signed my lease yet for my new place, I only called the water company
today to see what would be needed to turn on water at the new place.  If you can not
provide me with any statutory authority to collect the requested information and can 
not guarantee a religious accommodation request would be accepted, I may not even sign
my new lease and move into your city or may seek advice through other legal channels,
the fact that you find it 'ridiculous' that me and my family, including a 7 year old 
nephew, wish to obtain water service for our residence so that we may shower, bathe, 
and have tap water to drink from is "ridiculous", or perhaps the fact that your policy
substantially burdens the free excercise of my religion is "ridiculous" when your agency
can not demonstrate that the collection of Social Security numbers is in furtherance of 
a compelling government interest or demonstrate that there is no least restrictive means
for this alleged compelling government interest is what is truly "ridiculous" here.

Please take the time to read the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which can be found here

Sec. 110.003.  RELIGIOUS FREEDOM PROTECTED.  (a)  Subject to Subsection (b), a government agency may not substantially burden a person’s free exercise of religion.

(b)  Subsection (a) does not apply if the government agency demonstrates that the application of the burden to the person:

(1)  is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and

(2)  is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest.

Sec. 110.004.  DEFENSE.  A person whose free exercise of religion has been substantially burdened in violation of Section 110.003 may assert that violation as a defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding without regard to whether the proceeding is brought in the name of the state or by any other person.

Mayor Jones, I would advise and assure you that researching these statutes would not be “wasting your staff’s time”, ignorance of the law is no excuse in the eyes of the court, I do not think it would be beneficial to bring to light that the city ignored a known issue that they were aware of because they thought it would be “wasting their time”, on the contrary, I think it would be a constructive fraud and a discriminatory practice on the City’s behalf.

Shortly after this exchange I was called by the City Deputy Attorney who agreed the requirement is both a violation of the Privacy Act of 1974 and the State’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act as it is not the least compelling way of verifying my identity while burdening my religious freedom.  These laws have applicable uses, and have been in place since 1993 at the federal level and at least 2009 for Texas, and helped me get my water turned on and were never intended to discriminate against gay people which seems to be some media fallacy.  Don’t believe everything you read.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Plastc & Coin – 2 pre-orders doomed to fail.

Dejavu.  I woke up to yet another Coin-like product today, Plastc.  It’s essentially the exact same thing as Coin, except it has some cool looking display and in addition to magstripes which are scheduled to phase out next year in favor of Chip & PIN/Chip & Signature technology, this new Coin-clone product ostensibly will also have a Chip and NFC emulator.

What Coin & Plastc fail to realize is they are essentially commercially marketing counterfeiting cards/access devices for personal use – the same thing criminals already do.  While products like Google Wallet and Apple Pay have the blessings of the card companies, a physical counterfeit card not issued by one of the Card Network players(i.e. MasterCard, Visa, Amex, Discover) will not hold water.

Because these products are essentially counterfeiting devices, and not Card Network/Bank issued and licensed products of the Card Network brands, Merchants are not under any duty to accept your fancy new gizmo, and in fact, they do have a duty to NOT accept these cards.  MasterCard’s Transaction Processing Rules Manual puts it this way:

If an unexpired Card does not have a MasterCard or Debit MasterCard
hologram, as applicable, or MasterCard HoloMag™, the Merchant must retain
the Card if able to do so peacefully and contact its Acquirer for instructions.

So even if Coin or Plastc come to fruition, your shiny new $50-150 plastic toy can be retained by the merchant as a suspicious card being that is lacks Card Network branding. Sure the prototype on Plastc’s website shows an Amex logo, expect that to go away very soon as trademark infringement – Plastc’s own website warns:

Each of Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Charles Schwab, Citi, Chase, Bank of America, US Bank, Wells Fargo, and Apple are registered trademarks of their respective owners and this website does not endorse or sponsor any such trademarks or their respective owners. **Product design and features may vary at the time of shipping.

Coin customers who were expecting to get their cards in Summer of 2014 that pre-ordered before Christmas of LAST YEAR still haven’t received their product.  Do you want to take a $150 gamble with Plastc, both of which companies will no doubt be facing legal action from the Card Network brands if they ever do ship? I’m crossing my fingers for Wallaby instead.


Update: I was also just informed about this awesome new product: — I’m a little skeptical as it appears to have the same lame guy that is on Coin’s video introduction, however this makes more sense as they’re generating the cards which will likely be virtual MasterCards thus their card will likely have a MasterCard logo and be licensed.  We’ll see how this pans out, a lot better idea anyhow.


Update #2:

Received the following response from Final:

“Thanks for reaching out! There is a very key difference between us and Coin/ Plastc. We are issuing a credit card that will live on the existing credit card networks leveraging tokenization. Right now, we are in serious discussions with a couple of banks to back us. As a result, we will look and act like a regular credit card on the same V/MC network, which is a key difference with regards to merchant adoption.

Please feel free to reach out if there are any more questions that we can answer.
Davis and Team Final”
Posted in Credit Cards | Leave a comment

Colorado DMV Lifehack Part 2

In my previous post I mentioned how I was able to register my new SUV as a Truck, thus saving money based on the fact that the Specific Ownership Tax is generally more expensive than the registration fees themselves for about the first 10 years of a new vehicle’s life.  My co-worker recently tried to do the same for his new Toyota Highlander but got turned down.  Below is e-mail exchange between county DMV & State Department of Revenue employees which documents and vindicates this is a legitimate transaction and allowed under current law and policy. 

from:  Jered Morgan <>
date:  Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 1:20 AM
subject:  Tax Class B SUV’s


I would like to bring to your attention an issue with your staff my friend Chris had attempting to have his Power of Attorney register his vehicle as a Tax Class B vehicle, a Toyota Highlander, at your office.  He provided your office with the following Statement of Fact which clearly outlines that SUV’s designed and used to transport property fall within Tax Class B trucks and not Tax Class C vehicles.  Your own website recognizes this fax:
Effective May 12, 2000, owners of Class B vehicles (including light trucks and SUV’s) must show proof of insurance before registering vehicles. Signing the back of the renewal card DOES NOT constitute showing proof of insurance.
 Taxable value is calculated with a percentage of the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price. The percentage used on passenger vehicles is 85% and on cargo type vehicles 75%.
I don’t understand where there can be any confusion on this, the statute 42-3-105(1)(d)(I) specifically mentions SUVs registered as Tax Class B pursuant to 42-3-106(2)(b) — 42-3-106(2)(b) states:
Every truck..used for the purpose of transporting property over the public highway in this state not included in Class A shall be Class B personal property. — no mention of SUV, it’s inferred from 42-3-105(1)(d)(I) that an SUV is one of such Trucks classified as Tax Class B.  The definition of truck is 42-1-102(108) “Truck” means any motor vehicleequipped with a body designed to carry property and which is generally and commonly used to carry and transport property over the public highways.
Fiscal Note for HB 00­-1024 puts it this way where you can glean from legislative intent:
The bill will affect light trucks weighing less than 16,000 pounds empty weight that are not insured through a commercial line of insurance and class B sport utility vehicles (SUVs). SUVs, which are considered dual-purpose vehicles, are registered based on the owner’s declared usage and can be classified as essentially either cars or trucks. SUVs registered as cars are issued class C license plates and are already required to show proof of insurance under current law. 
This bill expands the requirement to include SUVs that are issued truck plates as class B vehicles. During 1999, 715,912 class B vehicles with an empty weight of less than 16,000 pounds were registered. Class B vehicles include light trucks and some SUVs, as well as trucks weighing over 16,000 pounds, truck tractors, and semitrailers that are not used as interstate carriers.
Thank you for taking the time to read this complaint, I hope it will help you educate your staff and assist my friend in being able to register his vehicle as required and pursuant to Colorado law. 

Thank you, 
This was the first of several emails. I also was able to obtain a copy of the DMV’s manual and followed up with:
from:  Jered Morgan <>
to:  DCMV <>
date:  Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 8:48 PM
subject:  Re: Tax Class B SUV’s — here is the Colorado Title & Registration Manual I referenced in the previous email, you will also notice under abbreviations for Vehicle Body Style Abbreviations UP/UT is declared usage, with examples of other vehicles similar to the Toyota Highlander:

UP– Utility Passenger A vehicle that is used to transport passengers. Owner 
declares primary usage. (Example: Bronco, Blazer, 
Cherokee, Land Rover).
UT– Utility Truck A vehicle that is used to transport passengers. Rear 
seat may be removed to carry cargo. Owner declares 
primary usage. (Example: Explorer, Bronco, Blazer).
All of the vehicle examples for this Body Type are nearly identical to the Highlander, enclosed cab with no ‘bed’ but seats that can be removed/folded to make a van-like bed. 
I then go the following email in reply, and thought that would be the end of it:
from:  DCMV <>
to:  Jered Morgan <>
date:  Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 7:23 AM
subject:  RE: Tax Class B SUV’s

Good Morning,

I actually did research definitions for pick-up, truck and SUV that are in the Colorado title Manual. If you notice at the top of the page those are from the Second College Edition of the American Dictionary. There is no definition in Statute for the definitions of these body styles.

I emailed the State and I received a response this morning. They have authorized SUV’s to have rec Plates. I was not involved in the visit that your colleague had in Castle Rock, but I was the one answering the DCMV emails this week.

The State is going to update the title manual and send a memo regarding this change.

Have a great day

But a few hours later I got this email:

to:  Jered Morgan <>
date:  Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 3:42 PM
subject:  RE: Tax Class B SUV’s

Mr. Morgan,

The State has reviewed this scenario in more detail . They have come to a decision that we may not give a recreational truck plate to register the Toyota Highlander at this time. This decision is pending a review of a DR2444 Statement of fact which I am attaching.

The specific and primary usage of the vehicle must be described in detail by the owner of the vehicle and signed. This will be forwarded to Crystal at the Department of Revenue for review and final decision. At this time we can and will offer a regular passenger plate for the vehicle.

If the decision is made to register the vehicle with a recreational truck plate per the State we will credit the registration and apply it to the new recreational truck registration.

I want to apologize for the earlier decision and confusion by the State to go ahead and issue the recreational plate to the Highlander. The State has determined this requires further review of the Statute and definitions of SUVs. Light truck, utility passenger, utility truck and any other vehicle that may fall under this description.

My prompt attention to this matter is on high priority and I will keep you updated on the progress of this situation.

I noticed she mentioned Crystal, whom I had previously dealt with a different matter unrelated, so I shot her an email to see if it was the same Crystal, indeed it was:

to:  Jered Morgan <>
date:  Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 5:45 PM

 Re: Tax Class B SUV’s

Hello Jered,

Thank you for the additional information. Yes, I will be the one reviewing this and presenting my decision to the Motor Vehicle Statute Review Committee.  
Thank you,
So I sent the following for their review:
Hello Crystal,

I would like to present the following information for the Committee to review as this is the logic I used myself to register my own SUV in this manner:
C.R.S. 42­-3­-105(1)(d)(I) states in its pertinent parts:
“The requirements of this paragraph (d) apply only to motor vehicles classified as..sports utility vehicles that are classified as Class B personal property under section 42-­3­-106(2)(b)
C.R.S. 42-3-106(2)(b) does not mention SUVs specifically, yet 42-3-105(1)(d)(I) above makes specific mention that SUVs can be classified as Class B under section 42-3-106(2)(b) which states
(b) Every truck, laden or unladen truck tractor, trailer, and semitrailer used for the purpose of transporting property over any public highway in this state and not included in Class A shall be Class B personal property; except that multipurpose trailers shall be Class D personal property.
It is assumed that SUVs are one of the trucks mentioned in 42-3-106(2)(b) as the Fiscal Note for the bill that created 42-3-105(1)(d)(I) makes it clear that SUVs are dual purpose vehicles that can be classified as essentially cars or trucks which shows the legislature’s intent:
The bill will affect light trucks weighing less than 16,000 pounds empty weight that are not insured through a commercial line of insurance and class B sport utility vehicles (SUVs). SUVs, which are considered dual-purpose vehicles, are registered based on the owner’s declared usage and can be classified as essentially either cars or trucks. SUVs registered as cars are issued class C license plates and are already required to show proof of insurance under current law. This bill expands the requirement to include SUVs that are issued truck plates as class B vehicles. (Source FN for HB00-1024 which created 42-3-105(1)(d)(I) and can be read at$FILE/HB1024.pdf )

As shown above, SUVs that are TRUCKS can be registered as Tax Class B, in order to determine if an SUV is atruck which can be registered by the owner’s declared usage, one must first know what a truck is. A truck is defined in Title 42 of the Colorado Revised Statutes as follows under C.R.S. 42-1-102(108):


 “Truck” means any motor vehicle equipped with a body designed to carry property and which is generally andcommonly used to carry and transport property over the public highways.
While many SUVs do not have truck beds, they usually have fold down seats or seats you can remove which will create an enclosed bed like that of a delivery van, this type of body design, at least in my opinion, is one specifically designed to carry property, and generally and commonly can be used to do so. 
As shown above, SUV’s most certainly meet the definition in the statute of a truck, and the owner’s declared usage of the vehicle would be proof that it is a truck generally and commonly being used to carry property.  Furthermore a Recreational Truck (that’s actually only printed on the plate or abbreviated as RTK, in the statutes relating to it it is referred to as a  “Noncommercial or recreational vehicle”) is defined in the statutes as follows at 42-1-102(61):
(61) “Noncommercial or recreational vehicle” means a truck, or unladen truck tractor, operated singly or in combination with a trailer or utility trailer or a motor home, which truck, or unladen truck tractor, or motor home is used exclusively for personal pleasure, enjoyment, other recreational purposes, or personal or family transportation of the owner, lessee, or occupant and is not used to transport cargo or passengers for profit, hire, or otherwise to further the purposes of a business or commercial enterprise.
This definition makes it clear a Recreational Truck is a truck, which by definition includes SUV, which is used not only for transporting property, but also for personal pleasure, enjoyment, other recreational purposes and personal & family transportation but not for compensation/business/commerce.  Therefore, one that uses an SUV(read:truck) to both transport property as well as personal pleasure, enjoyment and personal or family transportation but not for business purposes is entitled, by definition, to register as a Recreational Truck
Thank you for taking the time to read and review the above information. 
Thank you, 
Jered Morgan
I hadn’t heard anything for a few days so I asked for a timeframe and got this in return:

I do not have a time frame for you at this time.  I ask for your patience as there are many factors to consider.
Still nothing, asked for a follow up on July 31st, got an out of office reply and didn’t hear anything until August 4th:

I have made a determination and sent it to the Operations Director for review.  Once he has an opportunity to review my decision and supporting facts, I will let you know.
I went to Defcon and returned and still hadn’t heard anything, so I looked up the Operations Director’s email and asked for a follow up and finally got it:

Mr. Morgan,

Good Afternoon. The vehicle can be registered as Class B and my team has reached out to the Douglas County Motor Vehicle office informing them of the decision.
Thank you,
My co-worker still hasn’t went to the DMV yet to correct the registration so I’ve set this to publish August 15th.  Crossing my fingers things go as planned 🙂 
Posted in DMV | Leave a comment

Fun at the DMV – Lifehack for cheaper registration on new SUVs in Colorado

I recently purchased a brand new 2014 Ford Escape and paid for it in full as a “cash sale” with no financing.  After my purchase I was going through my dealership paperwork (Bill of Sale, Buyer’s order and Invoice, etc.) and noticed the Make was listed as a “FORD TRUCK” (See below):


This scared me a little bit as originally being from California, I know TRUCK registration is usually substantially higher than regular
passenger vehicles. However, I spent a few hours researching this, and found that TRUCK registration in Colorado is based on a number of factors including the age, weight, use and taxable value of the vehicle.  In some cases TRUCK registration does cost substantially more than a passenger vehicle, for instance I found a user on the Colorado 4×4 forums who was told his 10 year old Cargo van, which did not have rear seats installed would need to be registered as a truck until the seats were installed, and doing the math it would cost him about $96 more.  Here’s the break down in his situation:

2004 Sprinter 3500 GVWR 9900

Registering as a Car:
Per CRS 42-3-306(b)(I)(C): Weighing more than 4500 pounds, $12.50 plus sixty cents per one hundred pounds, or fraction thereof, of weight over forty-five hundred pounds: $12 + $32.40 (9900lbs – 4500lbs = 5400lbs/100= 54, 54x$0.60) = $44.40

Registering as a Truck per CRS 42-3-306(5)(a):

9,801 but not more than 9,900 $141

It would appear as if you’re going to pay $96.60 more for registration, also since the car is 10+ years the specific ownership tax is a flat $3 and NOT based on MSRP. 

However, when it comes to my 2014 Ford Escape, this is a brand new vehicle, so the specific ownership tax will NOT be a flat $3.  In fact, the specific ownership tax will be more then the regular registration fees.

This is the break down(or my theory at least based on the statutes):

2014 Ford SUV curb weight is 3500 lbs

Registration fees for passenger car:

Weighing 4500 lbs or less 42-3-306(2)(b)(I)(B): $6

Registration fees for a truck (42-3-306(5)(a)): Weighing 3,501 but not more than 3,600: $9.20

It would appear as if you’re going to pay $3.20 more for registration, however this does not account for specific ownership taxes which are:

75% of 23,100 = $17,325 taxable value TRUCK

85% of 23,100 = $19,635 taxable value PASSENGER

First year annual specific ownership tax payable is 2.10% of taxable value.

Registered as a truck, this would be 2.10% of $17,325 which is $363.82

Registered as a passenger vehicle, this would be 2.10% of 19,635 which is $412.33

$412.33 – 363.82 = $48.51 – $3.20 “more” for TRUCK registration =

$45.30 SAVINGS for registering as a Tax Class B TRUCK instead of a Tax Class C passenger vehicle.

After I learned this, I went to the DMV to register my truck, armed with this Statement of Fact I told the clerk I would be registering my Escape as a TRUCK.  She said I wasn’t allowed to do that because it was an SUV.  I whipped out the Statement of Fact and had her read the following:

SUVs meet this definition of Class B personal property per C.R.S. 42­-3­-105(1)(d)(I) which states in its pertinent parts:


“The requirements of this paragraph (d) apply only to motor vehicles classified as..sports utility vehicles that are classified asClass B personal property under section 42-­3­-106(2)(b)”

Legislative intent ­can be gleaned from Fiscal Note HB 00­-1024 January 6th, 2000 which states:

SUVs, which are considered dual-purpose vehicles, are registered based on the owner’s declared usage and
can be classified as essentially either cars or trucks.


After reading, she said, “Okay, well you know that TRUCK registration costs more right?” — I then explained how the specific ownership tax would actually make the registration cost less for the first 10 years as the taxable value is based on 75% of MSRP vs 85% of MSRP for passenger vehicles.  She proceeded to check the computer, found that it is actually less to register as a truck, and did so, and the Taxable Value and Ownership Tax on my registration receipt below shows pretty much the same as I originally calculated:


The ownership tax shown above is LESS, however I think it’s because I transferred plates from a previous vehicle, I believe the ‘PRIOR OT’ is actually a CREDIT, so my initial estimate of 363.82 I think got rounded DOWN to the nearest dollar amount of 360.82ish as 360.00 – 30.32 = $329.68 — not sure how I saved an additional 50 cents out of no where, but whatever, the math is about right, and in my favor.  As you can see the actual REGISTRATION costs was $70.18, the ownership tax far outweighs that and I saved about $40-50 registering as a truck.

The only thing that went wrong is I did make a statement that this should be classified as a NONCOMMERCIAL or RECREATIONAL VEHICLE both in my Statement of Fact and an attached affidavit, as seen above she keyed it as a LTK(Light Truck).  There is no difference in price, but the declared use was intended for recreational purposes which includes transporting my family and personal enjoyment with the caveat that I can’t use the vehicle for commercial(i.e. FOR HIRE/FOR PROFIT) purposes, which I have no intention of.  Regardless, it’s registered as a truck and I did my part by providing the correct documents, I may send the DMV a letter asking for correction.  Stay tuned 🙂

Update: The following link gives a really good explanation of the above math estimating what you’re going to pay:

If you type in my vehicle’s info as the following:

Year of vehicle 2014

MSRP: 23,100

CWT: 35

Purchase Date: 03/2014

Registration Date: 04/2014

You’ll see the following output if you choose passenger:

Prior Ownership Tax:  $34.36
Ownership Tax:  $373.07
License Fees:  $36.46
Bridge Safety Surcharge:  $18.00
Road Safety Surcharge:  $23.00
Total:  $484.89

If you choose Light Truck you’ll see the following:

Prior Ownership Tax:  $30.32
Ownership Tax:  $329.18
License Fees:  $38.46
Bridge Safety Surcharge:  $18.00
Road Safety Surcharge:  $23.00
Total:  $438.96

As you can see, NEW vehicles it’s advantageous to register as a TRUCK since the OWNERSHIP tax takes the cake on the fees.  If you’re wondering if this Lifehack applies to you, this estimator may help.

 Update #2 4/30/2014

DMV called me into their office to correct registration to RECREATIONAL truck(RTK) as per my request, interestingly enough they had to ‘refund’ the original transaction (except for the SALES TAX) and then apply it to the RTK registration.  They wanted me to pay the difference in days since this would be a ‘new’ registration, but the clerk was nice enough to figure out how to get it to the correct amount so that I didn’t have to pay anything.  Not sure what she did, but my receipt now has everything zeroed out as far as Sales Tax(expected, you only pay that once), but also ROAD FEE AND BRIDGE FEE are now $0.00, however the LIC FEE remains the same $70.18 — So now I’m wondering if Rec. Truck is exempt from those fees and the ‘late’ fee for the registration just happens to match the difference or what.  I guess we’ll find out when I renew, however my Ford Escape is now finally properly registered as REC TRUCK.  Also oddly enough, I kept the same plate, but now there’s a ‘P’ next to the plate number on the receipt, not sure what that’s about yet..


Posted in DMV | 2 Comments

COIN card use is violation of MasterCard rules and subject to confiscation

MasterCard Rules section Suspicious Cards states in part:

If any unexpired Card does not have a MasterCard or Debit Mastercard hologram, as applicable, or MasterCard HologMag™, the Merchant must pick up the card and contact its Acquirer’s Code Ten operator to advise it of the pick-up and to receive mailing instructions.

I have also contacted MasterCard for official policy in regards to COIN and will update if I receive a response.

Posted in Credit Cards | 2 Comments

Coin vs Wallaby Card – One Card to Rule them All? But which ONE?

2nd UPDATE 9:40 AM MT 11/15/2013 AT BOTTOM


On Thursday I woke up to a facebook post with a video link to a new innovative product – COIN.  This, I thought was going to be groundbreaking.  One card that lets you store ALL of your credit cards and lets you select which one you want to use by pressing a button.  My first thought was what if you loose the card, don’t want all of your eggs in one basket.  Gizmodo points out they got that covered:

“If you accidentally forget the card somewhere or it’s stolen, you’ll be notified on your phone that the Bluetooth connection has been lost, and the Coin will automatically deactivate itself.”

As you all know from my previous blog post, I do not show photo ID when presenting my credit card for card transactions.  My friend Doug e-mailed me and had the same thoughts I was, will this be an awesome ultimate card that doesn’t even have your name on it and merchants would be required to take this card? What about places like Seven Eleven that require the last 4 digits of the card to be punched in because the merchant is supposed to LOOK at the physical card and key the 4 digits to make sure the magstripe data read is the same as the card that was swiped (Credit Card fraudsters often magstripe write stolen credit card numbers to THEIR credit card, the 4 digit check forces the cashier to look at the card and validate what was swiped is same as on card).  Inevitably, the sheep on twitter and facebook who get asked for photo ID and comply started asking COIN, what about merchants that want photo ID?

The answers were as follows:

So it’s becoming painstakingly obvious that COIN doesn’t know what they’re talking about. So I started asking the harder questions, is this going to be backed by the major credit card companies, what about security features on regular credit cards, will merchants be required to honor COIN, is it an actual VALID credit card that uses virtual card numbers and then charges your real card after?  COIN has yet to respond to this question directly to me, however they did tweet this when another user asked will merchants be willing to accept:

It appears COIN is nothing more then a hyped up clone of your magstripe data, in fact they even state you can swipe your driver license and clone it in their FAQ:

“Q. Can a Coin store my driver’s license or other forms of identification?

A. Bottom line is that you should not rely on your Coin as a form of ID the next time you’re in line at the airport or at the club.A Coin can store an ID with a magnetic stripe, however, this will likely not suffice for you to use it out in the world. Many forms of identification have additional security features to ensure they are not fakes.”

Bottom line: Merchants have no obligation to honor COIN, and my recommendation to merchants would be they probably have an obligation to NOT honor COIN as it is NOT a valid credit card issued pursuant to a card company network operator’s license.  In fact, you’re taking a major risk if you accept COIN, if the cardholder charges you back and claims that YOU pressed the wrong button and charged the wrong card on COIN, what are you going to tell your merchant processing acquirer, that you were presented with a NON BRANDED card but checked the signature that they put on it?  Good luck winning that chargeback.


The Wallaby Card from Wallaby Financial WILL be a network branded card and they have confirmed so in this tweet to me:

You store your cards online in the cloud with them, and similar to Google Wallet, they give you a physical credit card with it’s own account number, depending on the preferences YOU choose, when you use your wallaby card the merchant charges against wallaby who in turn charges the card you have in your preferences for that merchant or transaction which you can specify through their website or mobile app presumably.  This is a MUCH better option then COIN and requires no batteries and merchants will be obligated to honor the network branded card.


“I asked Parashar about business owners who might not accept it because it doesn’t look much like other debit or credit cards. He said his company is working on a design that will make it look and feel more like other cards. (Emphasis added)
I also asked what I’d do when a cashier asks me to see my AmEx card, for example, before I pay, as sometimes happens. His answer was that the information shown on the electronic display coupled with a signature on the back of the card should solve that problem. I’m not so sure.

The idea of a card to store all cards is not completely new. But Coin isn’t looking to get in the middle of the transaction like some others are; it’s building a piece of hardware that simply facilitates the same type of card transaction as other cards would.

In the end, maybe business owners will freak out and refuse to accept the card for some reason.”

Coin Hi Jered Morgan The Coin’s screen will display the last 4 digits of the card, it will also display the expiration date and CVV. The back of the card will have your name printed and will include a tamper-evident signature panel just as a standard credit card. Merchants can compare the details with your ID as one way to verify that you are the card owner.

We will follow-up on some of the other concerns about merchants being required to accept payment, contractual agreements, etc.

Well, obviously they didn’t understand I don’t show Photo ID and were referring to my earlier comment about signature comparisons before I saw their tweets explaining this already, so far official answer to the harder questions which is the point of this blog is that “We will follow-up”. I’ll post an update if I get any or if anything I’ve presented is inaccurate.

Posted in Credit Cards | 8 Comments

California DMV repeating history, advertising on your license plates




The California Department of Motor Vehicles quietly started advertising their website, on standard issue License Plates around the 6TPW### series without express authorization from the legislature, apparently they think they can print whatever the hell they want on your license plates without legislative authorization, so I guess there was no reason for the legislature to even consider it in 2010, a year prior.

This isn’t the first time the California DMV has got in trouble for advertising on license plates.  They did exactly this in 1939 to advertise the California World Fair, and a man who refused to display such advertising without compensation WON his case in People v. Kirby, 38 Cal.App.2d Supp. 768 which ruling states in part:

It further appears that defendant’s application for 1939 registration and license plates was seasonably made (23 January), that he then paid the full amount of the registration fee and vehicle tax and that the division of motor vehicles of the state in a few days forwarded to defendant the certificate of registration which was properly displayed in his car at the time of his arrest and certain proposed license plates bearing the identifying number shown on the certificate and also bearing the words “California World’s Fair ’39.” Immediately upon receipt of such plates defendant returned them to the division of motor vehicles, stating that they were not acceptable to him, that they did not bear the inscription required by section 156 of the Vehicle Code, that he did not wish to display advertising on his automobile without compensation and demanding that plates be issued to him without the advertising matter thereon. The division of motor vehicles declined to issue or provide defendant with any plates other than those originally tendered.


It will be remembered that section 237, above quoted from, and which defendant has been found guilty of violating, in so far as it is pertinent here, predicates the offense only on failure to display license plates “when and as required by this code.” The license plates so required by the code are described in section 156 (b) as follows: “Every license plate shall have displayed upon it the registration number assigned to the vehicle for which it is issued, together with the word ‘California’ or the abbreviation ‘Cal.’ and the year number for which it is issued.” There is nothing in the slightest degree uncertain or ambiguous in the foregoing language prescribing what shall be shown on the license plates. That language is obviously both inclusive and exclusive and it applies to every license plate. The department of motor vehicles had no more authority or right to require defendant to display, with or without compensation, a license plate advertising the California World’s Fair than it had to compel him to carry a banner or make oral speeches advertising the fair, the climate, prunes, oranges or a political party. It was clearly the duty of the department to furnish defendant with license plates “as required by this code” and he could not be compelled to display unauthorized plates. To hold otherwise would be to authorize the taking of his property without due process of law and would countenance an unwarranted invasion of his personal liberty.

While awaiting the receipt of proper plates defendant, exactly as required by the statute, displayed the plates issued to his vehicle for the preceding year. Thus, instead of proving a violation of the law, the stipulated facts, as above stated, show that defendant fully complied with it.

The judgment is reversed and the cause is remanded to the municipal court with directions to enter a judgment of not guilty.

Shaw, P. J., and Bishop, J., concurred.


If an appellate court case that has never been overturned from the same State that issues the plates isn’t proof enough, a U.S. Supreme Court case, Wooley v. Maynard further states in a 6-to-3 decision, the Court held that New Hampshire could not constitutionally require citizens to display the state motto upon their vehicle license plates. Chief Justice Burger, writing for the Court, found that the statute in question effectively required individuals to “use their private property as a ‘mobile billboard’ for the State’s ideological message.” The Court held that the State’s interests in requiring the motto did not outweigh free speech principles under the First Amendment, including “the right of individuals to hold a point of view different from the majority and to refuse to foster. . .an idea they find morally objectionable.” The state’s interest in motor vehicle identification could be achieved by “less drastic means,” and its interest in fostering state pride was not viewpoint-neutral.

It seems the California DMV is again requiring it’s citizens to display unauthorized plates in violation of CVC 4850 – 4853(substantially similar to vehicle code 156(b) circa 1939) and therefore no citizen in receipt of such plate has any duty to display it unless and until the DMV issues legal plates that comply with 4850 – 4853.

Posted in DMV | Leave a comment