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April 4, 2007
Contact: Don Cookson

Online Rapid Renewal System Helps Spot Excise Tax Trouble

Auto registration system highlights problem, leads to simple solution

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said today Maine’s online registration service proved instrumental in heading off a potential headache for those looking to renew auto registrations - whether online or in person at their local municipal office. “A handful of consumers noticed a discrepancy in their excise tax while registering a vehicle online,” Dunlap said. “When they alerted us, the red flag that was raised led to a complete review of the system. That review identified the problem, and a simple solution was put in place, minimizing the potential for similar issues moving forward.”

According to Deputy Secretary of State Catherine Curtis at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, “some residents were charged the same amount of excise tax in March 2007 as they were charged in March 2006, even though it should have decreased.” Curtis explained “the source of the problem was a discrepancy in tax data that participating municipalities upload to the system on a monthly basis. Further investigations showed this was an isolated incident. Pinpointing the cause of the trouble has led us to implement additional double-checking of tax data in the system to assure accuracy.”

Secretary Dunlap said “a letter detailing what caused the trouble has been distributed to each municipality participating in the Rapid Renewal Program.” Dunlap credited both staff at the BMV and employees at InforME with crafting a solution to the problem. That solution includes additional checks to the data in the system and a simplified method for taxpayers to question their excise tax amount when they are using Rapid Renewal. “InforME is the company who provides the state’s online web portal and associated web based services, and they worked alongside the BMV to handle this issue before it got out of hand. The real saving grace here is that the trouble was identified thanks to the concerns of no more than a half dozen consumers of our online services,” Dunlap said. “By being responsive to that handful of complaints, the system has been further enhanced so it can continue to provide the quality customer experience users have come to expect.”