One of New England’s largest RV dealers has launched a nationwide fundraising effort to help Village Green Family Campground rebuild after a tornado destroyed the park June 1.
“We think it’s the right thing to do,” Danielle Hanoud, vice president of Marty’s USRV, Berkley, Mass., said of the park, which is located near the central Massachusetts town of Brimfield.
Marty’s USRV has pledged to contribute $1 to Village Green Family Campground on behalf of anyone who becomes a fan of their Facebook page during the month of July – up to a maximum of $1,000, according to a news release.
“We’re very pleased to see an RV dealership reaching out like this to help a campground in its time of need,” said Marcia Galvin, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Campground Owners (MACO), which has also set up a relief fund to process donations from campground owners and others who want to help Village Green Family Campground rebuild.
Village Green Family Campground owners Meg and Les Twarowski have already begun rebuilding their family-owned campground and hope to open at least half of it by late October.
The tornado destroyed 95 of the 97 RVs that had been parked in the campground as well as several campground buildings, including its 3,000-square -foot pavilion, which had been a focal point for special activities and events throughout the camping season.
The camp store has also been damaged so severely that it may be condemned. The park is also covered with fallen trees and other debris, but with the help of volunteers, a cleanup effort is well underway.
Brimfield community members have also been donating food, bottled water, Gatorade, work gloves, rakes, shovels, brooms and other supplies.
As of late June, about 30% of the cleanup had been completed, Meg Twarowski said, adding that insurance adjusters are frequently coming to the park to assess the damage to privately owned RVs that were there when the tornado hit.
MACO has rallied its members to help the Twarowskis rebuild their park, and park operators from across the country are sending donations to help with the reconstruction effort, said Galvin, the association’s executive director.
She added that as of late June, MACO had received checks and pledges from about half of the association’s 75 Massachusetts members as well as checks from park operators, associations, and businesses in other states.
MACO also designated July 4th weekend as “Support Village Green Family Campground” Weekend! Participating parks pledged $1 of every site in their park to be donated to the relief fund to help rebuild Village Green.
If you would like to donate food, equipment or supplies to help with campground reconstruction effort, please contact Meg Twarowski at (413) 245-3504 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Campground operators can also send donations directly to Marcia Galvin of the Massachusetts Association of Campground Owners at MACO P.O. Box 47 Foxboro, MA 02035. All checks should be payable to Village Green Campground and “relief fund” printed in the memo.
Add Massachusetts to the growing list of states that are going after RV owners who register their RVs in Montana.
Some owners of expensive recreational vehicles are “defrauding” Massachusetts out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by registering their RVs in Montana and avoid Trendscracker ing state and local taxes, WFXT-TV, Dedham, Mass., reported.
Investigators with state Inspector General Gregory Sullivan’s office have already identified 23 RVs owned by Montana companies and registered in Montana when in fact, Sullivan says, the vehicles should have been registered and taxed in Massachusetts.
“This is a tax fraud rip-off scheme. The victims are the other taxpayers in Massachusetts,” Sullivan says.
The scheme, well-known in the RV community, saves owners from paying sales tax when they purchase the vehicle. Because the vehicles sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, the sales tax alone can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and excise taxes can also be thousands of dollars.
All RV owners have to do is set up a limited liability company in Montana, and use that company to buy the RV and register it in Montana, which has no sales or excise tax. But state officials point out that all vehicles driven more than 30 days in Massachusetts must be registered in Massachusetts.
Sullivan also worries about these giant RVs being on the road without safety or emission inspections, which are not required in Montana.
“We have a safety system in Massachusetts made for these kinds of vehicles to make sure that they don’t have rollovers, that the brakes are good. There’s a lot of weight. They could crash into cars. And what’s happening? They’re not getting inspection stickers because it’s a Montana plate,” he said.
Sullivan released a report this week about the RV scheme, and says there are many more illegally registered RVs in Massachusetts than the 23 his investigators found. Montana’s corporate secrecy laws, though, make them almost impossible to find.
“We know the extent of this is much greater than that. Much greater. Because the information is blocked from our view. Montana won’t give it up,” he said. “You can’t get information from the system. They set it up that way and I think it’s despicable, frankly.”
But the TV station’s news crew found people like Charles Pickett, who created a limited liability corporation in Montana in 2006 to register the RV sitting in his Rehoboth driveway.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said, pointing out the Massachusetts plates on his RV.
But the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles says Pickett registered his RV here just a week ago, on March 17. Had he not been caught, Pickett would have saved $9,770 in sales tax alone by registering as he did in Montana, plus an annual excise tax.
Another RV originally registered in Montana belongs to Hilton and Thomas Jenkins of Mattapan. They initially avoided $11,064 in sales tax by registering through a Montana corporation.
“Oh, I’m not going to talk to you about that. My husband’s not here,” Hilton Jenkins said when FOX 25 approached her at her home.
It’s the same story in Bridgewater, where the news crew found RV owner James Pistorino.
“Were you trying to cheat the state out of tax money?” reporter Mike Beaudet asked Pistorino.
“No,” he replied. “I was just trying to save myself some money.”
Pistorino didn’t need to set foot in Montana to set up the James J. Pistorino Limited Liability Company and save $11,826 in sales tax and thousands a year in excise taxes.
The Montana tax scheme is no secret to Marty Hanoud, president of Marty’s USRV in Berkley. He’s been selling RVs for more than 30 years.
“I think most of the RV people are aware of the Montana loophole,” he said. “But we don’t advise it because if you house it and live in Massachusetts, then you need to pay the Massachusetts sales tax.”
He may not advise customers to set up a Montana company, but he’ll sell to one who does.
“We have sold to some corporations,” he said.
Pointing out the amenities in some of the motorhomes he sells, which have a suggested retail price of up to $500,000, Hanoud said, “Everybody’s just trying to find a legal way to save some money and enjoy this lifestyle.”
Saving money by illegally registering an RV may benefit the owner, but Sullivan warns it’s at the expense of every other taxpayer.
“They’re really not cheating the government. They’re really cheating everybody else who has to pay these taxes,” he said.
Sullivan also wants Montana to change its laws to make it easier to find out who’s buying these vehicles. A spokeswoman for Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch said on Monday that McCulloch would call the TV station to comment, but since then no one from that office has called.
The Registry of Motor Vehicles has already been in contact with all 23 RV owners identified by the Inspector General and warned them to register in Massachusetts.