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Old 06-09-2021, 12:27 PM   #1
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Downside to Vermont method

I'm starting to wonder how long this Vermont registration loophole is going to be allowed to continue. Technically registering a vehicle in one state and keeping/operating it in another state is fraud.

I see too many half baked conversions done by people who use the Vermont method to get around their state's definition of a legal motorhome. Just the other day on the Interstate I saw an older IC conventional with Vermont motorhome plates. The bus had the following:

1. What appeared to be windows that were spray painted black (not necessarily illegal, but doesn't give a very good impression).
2. Still school bus yellow. Wisconsin requires you to completely paint the bus with no yellow visible anywhere.
3. All school bus equipment still intact (lights, crosswalk, the works).
4. The strobe light was ON!! big no no in Wisconsin!! If you are NOT a school bus you are not allowed to run one, period. End of story.

I see this a TON on the facebook skoolie groups.

I realize that some states make it difficult and/or there are lack of guidelines for retitling a school bus as an RV but practices like this are just going to cause issues for all of us in the long run. I think it's already starting to contribute to the difficulty we have in getting insurance (they do NOT like sketchy registration workarounds).

Thoughts?

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Old 06-09-2021, 12:42 PM   #2
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I totally agree that the VT 'loophole' (I like that term btw) is only going to make skoolie life harder as time goes on because it allows half-baked conversions to parade as RVs. If VT does close that loophole no doubt people will flock to whichever other state offers the path of least resistance to registration but I wouldn't expect that alone to improve the image of the community.
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Old 06-09-2021, 01:10 PM   #3
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Agreed. It will close eventually, like all loopholes for evading bureaucracy.

But if the bus is breaking the law, like they are by registering a vehicle in one state and keeping/operating it in another, or by driving with the strobe light on, local law enforcement can pull them over and issue citations. Citations can then lead to impoundment, and the problem(s) would then be resolved or eliminated.

Those that do, good luck pleading your case of having an out of state vehicle with an instate license. Especially when the address on the registration comes back to outside of the state it's registered in.
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Old 06-09-2021, 01:44 PM   #4
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apparently people in the classic car world have been doing it with vermont for decades.. i dont hear about police horror stories or such..



the one real thing that bothers me is the people getting insurance "just to be legal" (for awhile)


interesting on the strobe light.. however id willingly step into a court room and plead before a judge or even in front of an officer that being seen in the fog would be far safer than having a real school bus full of childrean slam into the back of someone who turned off their strobe "because some bureaucrat said it shouldnt be on"..
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Old 06-09-2021, 02:24 PM   #5
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I'm starting to wonder how long this Vermont registration loophole is going to be allowed to continue. Technically registering a vehicle in one state and keeping/operating it in another state is fraud.
Who is being defrauded? The State or the insurance company?
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Old 06-09-2021, 06:00 PM   #6
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I completely disagree that this is even a loophole, much less "fraud" of any sort.

Every state has the (sole) right to set its own laws wrt non-commercial vehicles.

Every citizen has the right to be a scofflaw and accept the consequences.

(almost?) Every state has a law about certain types of vehicles needing to get **locally** registered pay fees, taxes etc,

after being in the state for X days.

Many (most) do not strictly enforce those laws.

So long as you remain a nomad, leave a state before X days,

or for the slacker states, stay longer and take your chances

enjoy your FREEDOM.

People who get all righteous suggesting our hyper-regulated lives should be regulated even more strictly than our lawmakers and LEOs have decided

really annoy the hell out of me.
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Old 06-09-2021, 06:05 PM   #7
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Arizona does not allow out of state plates for more than 10 days to a current resident of AZ. It used to be that police would scan your plates and if they found out you had a residence here for more than 6 months out of the year, they would pull you over and physically removed your out of state plate. You were required to get AZ plates.
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Old 06-09-2021, 07:33 PM   #8
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Every state has the (sole) right to set its own laws wrt non-commercial vehicles.

Every citizen has the right to be a scofflaw and accept the consequences.

(almost?) Every state has a law about certain types of vehicles needing to get **locally** registered pay fees, taxes etc,

after being in the state for X days.

Many (most) do not strictly enforce those laws.
I think John makes a correct description of the situation.

It's not too complicated, and I also think it is not a loophole.

You stay any of the 49 states but Vermont? You need to register it locally and pay fees. What constitutes a stay or a residence, is defined on the books of each state. This logic about "you're-a-local-you-pay-for-local-services" is unambiguously clear.

There may be a *GRACE* period. Some grace periods are shorter, some states are more lenient.

There may be spotty enforcement, but it doesn't make it legal to overstay the grace period.

If you've been in, say, California for a year on a Vermont plate, the California Department of Revenue wants your ass. If it is worth their while, is another matter, but there is no way to argue that you did everything by the rules. You knew, or should have known, that you should have registered your green plated prized possession locally within 20 days. Vermont is 100% in the clear here.

Since the Vermont Method does not provide for a way for you to legally avoid paying taxes elsewhere, it is not a loophole.
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Old 06-09-2021, 07:36 PM   #9
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likeI say. theres lots of classic cars running on vermont tags. and some have had them 10 years or more (that I know of personally) with no issues. and these cars get driven and parked on streets.. at car shows in towns. there's cops all over so if they wanted to check these cars and their owners they surely could..
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Old 06-09-2021, 07:44 PM   #10
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... if they wanted to check these cars and their owners they surely could..
*if they wanted*

They choose not to enforce it.
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Old 06-09-2021, 08:02 PM   #11
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Exactly, in those cases it is the local laws and LEOs that are allowing foreign vehicles to remain unmolested

in technical "violation" of the local regs.

Be grateful if you live in such an area.

States like California keen for every bit of tax revenue, pollution prevention etc, are a different story, and that is their right.

If you keep your conversion project on private property and out of public view

and only use your VT rego to drive occasionally when really needed to get parts, repairs, mods done

then the odds are slim of your running afoul of LEO even in CA.

Finally as true nomads know, it is entirely possible to establish legal residence, get your DL, voting etc

in whatever state you choose, no matter where you spend your time.

Doing so to evade state taxes or defraud gov benefits may be evil and fraught

but doing so for more innocent reasons will rarely attract any notice.

As for insurance, basically the same, not hard to establish your "garaged address" wherever you like,

combined with the VT rego can establish much more "freedom" than those choosing to remain stuck in one place living with unreasonable regulations.
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Old 06-09-2021, 08:08 PM   #12
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Legal domicile thread

https://www.skoolie.net/forums/f9/a-place-for-my-head-a-place-for-my-mail-and-a-place-for-my-bus-33738.html#post413912 ,
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Old 06-09-2021, 08:11 PM   #13
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I paid sales tax in PA for my title and then again for my VT registration (I didn't realize at the time that I could have avoided paying it to VT - it was only $200 anyway), and I have the bus inspected (and fixed) every year to PA standards even though it's not an official inspection. And since my insurer is fully aware that I reside in PA and not in VT, I don't feel I'm defrauding (or endangering) anyone even if it might be a bit gray legally.
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Old 06-09-2021, 08:30 PM   #14
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I don't remember exact details, but I was looking at NC and GA law years ago, when I lived in both NC and GA. Both wanted me to get a driver's license and register my vehicle in their state. Was is "x" days in a month? Or "x" days in a row? I forget. And if I lived in NC and drove over into GA every day for work, what do I do? Both were requiring me to be their honey-milk. What if I own a house in both states, and travel back and forth all the time? Do I get a new license and tag every two weeks? That is what $300 × 24 times a year = $7200
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Old 06-09-2021, 09:29 PM   #15
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I don't remember exact details, but I was looking at NC and GA law years ago, when I lived in both NC and GA. Both wanted me to get a driver's license and register my vehicle in their state. Was is "x" days in a month? Or "x" days in a row? I forget. And if I lived in NC and drove over into GA every day for work, what do I do? Both were requiring me to be their honey-milk. What if I own a house in both states, and travel back and forth all the time? Do I get a new license and tag every two weeks? That is what $300 × 24 times a year = $7200

I would expect in your situation that you would be expected to determine which house you spend more time in. Assuming it's right at 50/50, you could arbitrarily determine one as 51% and declare that as your full time/permanent home and consider the other one as your part time home. Since I live in GA, as I recall, the law says you are supposed to change your DL and registration/title within 30 days of moving to a new address ... but in your case, your *Permanent* address is whichever one you established - presumably you still own the place, you still go there to live, receive mail, etc. The other place is your part time house, for whatever reason (work, caring for a sick relative, whatever) and is not your permanent/full time address. Now, if you stayed there more than 6 months out of the year, then yes, it could be argued that it is now your "full time" address, but I'm assuming you would, in fact, travel regularly between the 2 places.
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Old 06-09-2021, 10:46 PM   #16
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I don't remember exact details, but I was looking at NC and GA law years ago, when I lived in both NC and GA.
You can only be legally domiciled in one place at a time.

It is very common for High Net Worth individuals to be claimed as "resident" by multiple states.

They pay very expensive lawyers to help them "escape" the higher tax jurisdictions

and sometimes sell off properties, refrain from visiting family there for years, etc

to truly cut ties with the old location as much as possible.

There are many legal factors involved

in the end it may require a judge to decide

But for poor people like us, usually just a theoretical problem.
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Old 06-10-2021, 10:15 AM   #17
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The old saying, "who's ox was gored".

I get irritated when I driving through neighborhoods, at the speed limit, and someone is tailgating me. Or when I'm doing the speed limit on an interstate and someone whizzes past me 20mph over the limit.

If I noticed a bus like the OP described I wouldn't think about the fact that they're breaking some inconsequential state registration laws designed soley to get money from the citizenry, I'd think about whether or not they did even the most rudimentary safety inspections on the mechanical systems of the bus before they went on public roads with a vehicle that could gross out at 30K pounds. "Strain out the gnat, swallow the camel". Seems like the concern is on the wrong problem.

Now I have to get ready to do my 1 1/2 hour round trip to my bus to continue prepping for paint so I can 'legally' move my Vermont registered bus to MY driveway in New Jersey to continue working on it to make it 'legal' to register in New Jersey as an RV.
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Old 06-10-2021, 10:33 AM   #18
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Maybe I'm misunderstanding this but I thought the point of the Vermont method from a skoolie standpoint was that you come out of the process with a title that says RV, then you take that title to your domicile state and convert to a title in THAT state that says RV, thus eliminating the need to prove your conversion to that home state in order to get a title there (if it's already an RV, they can't ask you to prove anything). Not that you leave VT plates on and drive around with them forever despite claiming a different state as your home state.
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Old 06-10-2021, 10:44 AM   #19
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Maybe I'm misunderstanding this but I thought the point of the Vermont method from a skoolie standpoint was that you come out of the process with a title that says RV, then you take that title to your domicile state and convert to a title in THAT state that says RV, thus eliminating the need to prove your conversion to that home state in order to get a title there (if it's already an RV, they can't ask you to prove anything). Not that you leave VT plates on and drive around with them forever despite claiming a different state as your home state.
That might work in some states but others, especially those with annual inspection requirements or tighter title transfer standards, are still going to go 'nope' when they see what is still clearly a school bus and not remotely an RV. If they use the 4-of-6 rule of thumb and no a bucket with a toilet seat is not a waste management system then you really won't accomplish much going the Vermont detour route.

Indiana isn't an aggressive state for such things but nevertheless when you bring an out of state titled vehicle it either has to accompany a signed form by a law enforcement officer or the license branch employee has to physically inspect it in person. Ostensibly this is a VIN check but again if it looks like a bus and honks like a bus, they're going to call it bus.
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Old 06-10-2021, 10:49 AM   #20
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That might work in some states but others, especially those with annual inspection requirements or tighter title transfer standards, are still going to go 'nope' when they see what is still clearly a school bus and not remotely an RV. If they use the 4-of-6 rule of thumb and no a bucket with a toilet seat is not a waste management system then you really won't accomplish much going the Vermont detour route.

Indiana isn't an aggressive state for such things but nevertheless when you bring an out of state titled vehicle it either has to accompany a signed form by a law enforcement officer or the license branch employee has to physically inspect it in person. Ostensibly this is a VIN check but again if it looks like a bus and honks like a bus, they're going to call it bus.
I can see what you're saying in terms of tighter title transfer, but are there actually states that check your toilet on annual inspection? Here in MA, an RV is subject to normal safety and emissions checks, but once it's an RV they're not checking any of that stuff annually.
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