Iowans who have been dodging state taxes by putting Montana license plates on luxury motorhomes are being offered a one-time deal to settle their debts. According to a report by the Des Moines Register, if they don’t pay up quickly, they could be hit with big state tax penalties or even charged with a crime.
The Iowa Department of Revenue, in cooperation with the Iowa Department of Transportation, is making the offer to Iowans whose motor vehicles are registered to out-of-state limited liability corporations. The deal would bring them into compliance with Iowa law.
“This is an opportunity to contact us before we contact you,” said Victoria Daniels, an Iowa Department of Revenue spokeswoman. “If you contact us, for this limited time we are going to be able to work out a settlement. If you don’t contact us, and we find out about it, we are going to pursue every remedy we have under the law.”
A statewide crackdown is already underway against motorhome tax evaders — particularly RV owners who have set up shell companies in Montana and registered motor homes costing as much as $500,000 or more under the firm’s name. By doing so, RV owners have often avoided paying thousands of dollars of Iowa taxes and fees because Montana residents do not pay general sales taxes.
Maj. Paul Steier, commander of the DOT’s motor vehicle enforcement investigative unit, says his staff is working on at least 60 cases of Iowa vehicle owners who have allegedly been trying to evade payment of state fees and taxes. Iowa investigators have recovered more than $1 million in just the past two years in such cases.
“Our hope is that this would get it cleared up much sooner, rather than dragging it out for an extended period of time,” Steier said.
State officials say the offer would require owners to pay a 5% vehicle registration fee, based on the purchase price. They also would pay a penalty of 10% of the fee.
So under the terms of the settlement, the owner of a $200,000 motorhome registered in Montana would pay a $10,000 fee to properly register it in Iowa. On top of that, a $1,000 penalty would be assessed.
The terms are non-negotiable and the settlement agreement must be signed and paid in full by Oct. 23, Daniels said.
The deal does not involve repayment of past annual registration fees, but it does apply to RV purchases made in the past. For example, if someone purchased an RV five years ago, they will be asked to pay 5% of the price of the vehicle when it was acquired, Daniels said.
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Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) announced today (July 24) that it has hired TPR to plan and execute a coordinated public relations program.
According to a press release, hiring a public relations agency is a first for FMCA, the world’s largest motorhome owners association. The move comes after FMCA’s executive board and staff examined all aspects of FMCA to chart the future direction and goals of the organization. Implementing an aggressive PR plan was the cornerstone for maintaining FMCA’s legacy as a leader in the RV ownership experience and ensuring continued growth.
Formed in 1963 by a group of motorhome owners at a time when the lifestyle was beginning to gain popularity, FMCA today has members throughout North America and around the globe. For nearly 50 years now, the association has been helping motorhome owners to enjoy the freedom, flexibility, comfort and control afforded by RV travel.
“We are excited to have TPR implement our PR program,” says Jerry Yeatts, FMCA executive director. “TPR’s proven track record in developing successful PR campaigns that resonate with the media and public is a major reason why our board selected the firm.”
“It is an honor to be chosen by FMCA’s board to help plan and carry out the association’s communications strategy,” says Jon Tancredi, TPR president. “We are looking forward to jumping in and accomplishing FMCA’s marketing goals.”
FMCA is an international organization for families who own and enjoy the recreational use of motorhomes. With approximately 85,000 active member families, FMCA is the world’s largest motorhome owners group. TPR is a public relations agency dedicated to communicating its clients’ messages via traditional and social media outlets. TPR’s president, Jon Tancredi, is a 25-year public relations professional and has specialized in the RVing and outdoor lifestyle sectors for two decades.
In its continuing search for new and improved benefits for motorhome owners, Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) is offering several new or enhanced “connections” to discounts its members.
FMCA has launched a “Campground Connection” program to help motorhoming families save money on campground stays and to provide participating campgrounds with an additional source of revenue, according to a news release.
The FMCA Campground Connection program is a system of FMCA commercial member campgrounds that have agreed to offer FMCA families a discount of at least 10% off their campground fees. These FMCA campgrounds also have joined FMCA in its member recruiting efforts and thus are authorized to sell FMCA memberships on the spot to customers who own motorhomes but do not yet belong to the association.
Participating campgrounds receive recruitment materials and signs that designate them as an FMCA Campground Connection. FMCA members can locate campgrounds via a searchable map at FMCA.com/campgrounds, which includes links to each facility’s Web site and lists services and amenities, the amount of discount offered, and contact information.
Campgrounds are required to be an FMCA commercial member in order to participate in the Campground Connection program. A one-year FMCA commercial campground membership costs $57 ($40 for each subsequent year). This membership puts campgrounds in touch with FMCA’s established network of nearly 100,000 motorhoming families.
In addition to the visibility provided by the online map, FMCA member campgrounds receive a free listing in the association’s RV Marketplace, which is published in Family Motor Coaching magazine and is available at FMCA.com.
Commercial membership also entitles the campground to a subscription to Family Motor Coaching, including the FMCA Annual Directory/Member Benefits Guide. Other benefits include the opportunity to host rallies planned by FMCA’s nearly 500 chapters; to participate in international and area rallies and other events; and to use the FMCA commercial member logo in advertising and other communications.
“We see our new Campground Connection program as benefiting FMCA members in many ways,” commented Jerry Yeatts, FMCA director of member services. “Who doesn’t like a discount? Plus, being able to identify FMCA campgrounds easily and quickly on FMCA.com will help our motorhoming families to confidently plan their travels. And, of course, the potential for campground owners to connect with an enthusiastic group of motorhome travelers — all for a nominal investment — makes the program appealing for them as well.”
At some point, all FMCA members will need to purchase new tires for their home on wheels. To help ease the financial ramifications of that purchase, FMCA has signed up for the Michelin Advantage Program.
This program allows FMCA to provide its members with the opportunity to receive a substantial discount off the retail price of Michelin tires at Michelin tire dealers. The purchase must be paid for with a VISA, MasterCard, or American Express credit card at the servicing dealership.
Michelin’s corporate office will charge the credit card the discounted price. FMCA will then send the member — via e-mail — a copy of the invoice that reflects the total with the Advantage Program discount.
Instructions and FMCA’s Michelin Advantage account number are available to FMCA members only (via a member sign-in) at FMCA.com/connect.
At the current time, the FMCA Michelin Advantage program is available at Michelin dealers within the United States. FMCA is hopeful that a similar program can be arranged with Michelin dealers in Canada. Meanwhile, Canadian members are welcome to visit a Michelin tire dealer in the United States to obtain the discounted pricing. To locate a Michelin dealer near you, visit http://www.michelinrvtires.com.
The new FMCA Tour Connection, powered by Fantasy RV Tours, offers members the opportunity to embark on FMCA-member-only RV caravans and rallies at discounted rates, and also to receive an FMCA discount on any other Fantasy RV Tours event.
Fantasy RV Tours is planning a variety of exciting member-only tours to popular destinations. Fantasy’s experts do all of the planning and handle all of the details for each outing. Tour participants simply show up, take in the sights, and enjoy the experience, all in the company of fellow RVers.
The first of these member-only tours will be a seven-day rally for motorhome owners in Washington, D.C., in April 2012 just in time to savor the cherry blossoms. In July 2012, a group of FMCA members will take in all the rip-roarin’ action at the Calgary Stampede Rally in Alberta, Canada. In September 2012 members will come together for a Western National Parks 32-day caravan to enjoy the grandeur of Bryce, Zion, Monument Valley and Grand Canyon national parks, among others. And in October 2012, members will gather in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for the ever-popular International Balloon Fiesta Rally.
Fantasy RV Tours offers more than 40 different itineraries around the globe. Additional FMCA-member-only tours will be announced as time goes on.
American Telecom Network (ATN) is offering cell phone service to FMCA members at special rates. These plans allow members to select the package and the phone that best suits their lifestyle. There are no roaming charges, no hidden taxes and fees, no long-term contracts, and no credit checks.
Service provides access to one of the nation’s largest cellular networks. Members can take their number and service with them anywhere they travel in the United States (service is not available in Canada).
Three prepaid plans and three different phones are available. The Silver Plan costs $39.99 and offers 500 minutes, 500 text messages and 10 MB of data per month. The Gold Plan costs $49.99 and provides 1,000 minutes, 1,000 text messages and 20 MB of data per month. The Platinum Plan costs $69.99 and supplies unlimited calling and texting and 50 MB of data each month.
As noted, three different phones are available at discounted prices for FMCA members. All phones are refurbished/recycled and thus are eco-friendly.
For more information about FMCA’s “connections” member benefits, visit http://www.fmca.com/connect.