The stereotype of dealing with the Department of Motor Vehicles can be a tough one to overcome for the employees who work there. People go there with the expectations that things are going to suck and so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. (Ironically just today, I had a very quick and pleasant experience at my local DMV!) A man in Virginia seems to have had a strange vendetta in that regard against the DMV that resulted in him paying a tax bill of $2,987.14 in PENNIES. This totaled about 300,000 coins and took DMV workers over 12 hours to count. I guess he showed them?
Nick Stafford went down a rabbit hole of taxes, lawsuits and government regulations when he tried to make a simple call to the Virginia DMV to have a question answered. He just wanted to know at which address he should register his car since he owns several houses. He called his local DMV office in Lebanon, Virginia, yet was transferred to a call center in Richmond. There he was put on hold for over an HOUR which seems to have really, really sparked his ire. No really, you don’t want to mess with this guy.
After the hour wait, which by DMV standards some would say isn’t that bad, Stafford filed a Freedom of Information Act request in order to get the direct phone number of his local DMV office so he wouldn’t be transferred to the call center. He was successful in getting the number, however when he called them directly, they promptly hung up on him saying he “wasn’t allowed to call that number.” That’s when Stafford went full Liam Neeson and unleashed a particular set of skills.
According to a blogpost detailing his DMV battle on Stafford’s website this is how things transpired;
“I purchased a new Corvette for my son who was in the process of getting his learners permit (and yes I know, young boy + new corvette = not smart) but ever since he was a child I always promised him that once he started driving I would hand him the keys to any car that he wanted.
I don’t trust banks or the thought of having monthly payments on anything I own, so, I paid cash for the vehicle. I had a “30 second question” that I needed answered with the DMV since I had recently built a new home and I never really changed my DMV address on file. I own 4 houses in 2 counties, all being just 10 minutes apart, including the home that I just moved out of. My specific question was “Where do I legally register the vehicle and pay the sales tax if I own 3 houses in Russell County and 1 house in Tazewell County.” That’s all I wanted to know, nothing more, nothing less, literally 30 seconds, tops.”
Although his original question about registering the car was eventually answered he still wasn’t satisfied and filed three lawsuits for which he paid $1,005 to file, in order for the state to publically release the direct phone numbers of it’s DMV offices.
“It shouldn’t matter if you pay $300 per year in income taxes or pay $300,000 per year in income taxes like myself, because the backbone of a free democracy / republic begins with government transparency, period.”
He eventually was given the phone numbers, yet a judge dismissed the case in which he also wanted the DMV employees to be fined $500 each for not giving him the numbers right away. So why did he end up bringing the wheel barrows full of pennies? He explains:
“Since my original phone call back in September, I have bought a new Chevrolet Silverado and a new Cadillac Escalade, and as always I paid cash, (no banks, no liens, both title(s) in hand, straight out ownership) and by paying in cash I am required to pay the sales tax ($2,987.14) at my local DMV.”
So in order to exact his revenge for waiting an hour on the phone and not being given the direct phone numbers right away, the successful small business owner decided that he was going to pay the sales tax on all his new vehicles in PENNIES.
To do so he paid 11 people $10 an hour over four hours to help him break open rolls of pennies and load them into four wheel barrows. He paid the penny un-rollers a total of $440 and the wheelbarrows cost $400 bringing his trolling costs to $840 PLUS the legal fees of $1,005 to a grand total of $1840. While the DMV employees had to count the coins well into the night, Stafford was required to sit there with them and watch until every coin was counted. He seems to think all the time, effort and money was worth it. His website proudly lists numbers to several Virginia DMVs.
Follow Phil Haney on Twitter @PhilHaney