Wednesday, April 16, 2014

RV tax

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We are about to spend ten times more on a new motorhome than our first house cost forty years ago. It makes me a little uneasy to spend this kind of money on a vehicle that will be traveling down the road depreciating. It has always been my husband’s dream. It sounds appealing to me so I am throwing caution to the wind and sailing away with him. However, he is trying to penny pinch on taxes using what I would call borderline legal schemes and dishonest practices. He has been looking into setting up a Montana LLC. We live in Ohio. He says it would cost us about twelve hundred dollars and save us thousands. Then he talked to a friend that never renews his license plates. The theory is: pay the fine instead of the tax. I have been very supportive of this new lifestyle but my husband is upset because I won’t go along with the tax cheating. Am I being too closed minded? Are others doing this? Is it legal?
--Honest Abby in Akron

Dear Abby:
Yes, others are doing this. Many are very nervous now because various states have caught on to the practice and are now pursuing these folks for back taxes and penalties. As for the plate renewal I would think that would catch up to you very quickly in this age of computer data. I would assume law enforcement could run your plate for various reasons on the fly in any state and know immediately that you are running on expired plates. If you are heading out on a grand adventure, spending big bucks for a new home on wheels, and looking forward to a relaxing lifestyle, do you really want to be looking over your shoulder all the time wondering if someone is after you? You have to pay to play. My suggestion would be to follow the rules and travel worry free. If, however, you sell your property in Ohio and change your residency to a state with little or no sales tax, you can enjoy that savings without fear of prosecution. Many people who are full-timers use services available in states like South Dakota to establish residency, mail forwarding service, and taxes. Taxes are a necessary evil. I was an accountant in the Marine Corps, so if you want to know where your taxes go, just ask me. If you want to use Military accounting practices to save money, just start at the bottom line with what you want back and work up.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

RV sound waves

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I know people have complained about this in the past, but it irks me to no end when I have to listen to another camper’s music. There should be a “No Tolerance” rule. I just spent two days feeling my rig vibrate from a deep bass, rap-crap song, over and over. The host said it was perfectly legal during the hours they were listening. Sound is so invasive. If people want to listen to whatever music turns them on, let them stay home in the privacy of their home. Why should I be exposed to it? Am I just an old curmudgeon getting ornery in my old age? In some campgrounds I wish I had already gone deaf. In this case it wouldn’t have helped - I could feel it!
--Vibrating in Valencia

Dear Vibs:
I don’t think this is an age issue, but it is an age old complaint. You will run into all kinds of people and campground management variations while on the road. I would have to say, the majority have some pretty decent control over what goes on in a campground setting. That being said, when you reach a destination you are looking forward to and find yourself in the vicinity of a boom box, it can be frustrating. I agree that sounds are invasive and need to be controlled. Most campgrounds have set hours for generators and loud noise of any kind. That however does not solve the problem of those seeking some quiet and solitude during daylight hours. Focusing on music I would agree with more volume control. I have witnessed people trying to outblast each other. You are not going to change management attitude often. I always vote with my feet (wheels). I have even asked for a refund in the past to leave early. To some, camping with Bob Seger belting Horizontal Bop is relaxing. If they are within the rules and regulations of the campground, don’t look for the host to give you much satisfaction, relocate and chalk it off as bad timing. You might say you are just skipping the beat.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Locked Out

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I am so mad I could spit. My husband said I should write to you and vent. I think I should write to you so that I can warn other campers of this possible circumstance. We were visiting Patagonia Lake State Park in Arizona. Like many State Parks around the country, Patagonia has a gate that closes at night. When you register, most parks give you a gate code for entering after hours. At Patagonia Lake the gate was a long way back from the entrance station and the campground loops. It was a sliding gate and very inconspicuous. We never gave it much thought. We had been to other Arizona State Parks with no gates. We met friends from home for dinner in town one night. When we returned to the campground at 11 pm the gate was closed. There was no one around to let us in. We were never told about a curfew. It was in the information we received when we entered the park, but we never read it. I just think it is important enough that park employees should give people a verbal warning that the park gate closes at 10 pm and there is no way in after that time, except to park your vehicle outside the gate and walk all the way into the camping area in the dark. When we finally made it home I needed a stiff drink just to get to sleep. A gate code would be a much better idea, in my opinion. When I made the suggestion in the morning, I was told the park brochure explained all the park rules.
--Locked and Loaded in Lodi

Dear Loaded:
The majority of gated parks do have a code, which makes perfect sense. I have no idea why this park would have a gate without a code. It is close to the border of Mexico and maybe there is a reason I am not aware of. No matter the case, I agree a verbal warning of awareness to every campground guest only makes sense. Some people for various health reasons would not be able to walk that distance. One thing you might try in the future would be several code combinations if there is a key pad. I have done this a couple times in Florida State Parks when I have left my code information back at the motorhome. Not wanting to walk a mile in the dark I tried 911, 411 etc... Most gates have an easy access code for local emergency personnel to access the park. Often they end in 11. Sometimes people do slide in behind paying guests when a gate opens. If the park has had problems in the past it may be the reason for the aggressive gate policy they have set. Because it is so unusual, I would think a verbal explanation to each and every camper should be mandatory. I know you’ll drink to that.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink