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My personal understanding of the word "privilege" - Paper on a 'Current Law'

twinsxtwo 4 / 4  
Apr 12, 2007   #1
I have to write a paper about a 'current law'. I chose one that is from the state in which I live, West Virginia. I haven't finished it yet, but I would like some feedback on what I have so far to make sure I'm going in the right direction. Any suggestions will be appreciated!

These are the directions we were given: Write a 2-3 page typed paper in which you evaluate and/or critique a current law that interests you. The purpose in writing evaluations/critiques is to convince your reader (the teacher) that you have made an informed judgement. You will have to give some background information on your topic, but your opinions will dominate your writing. Make certain that your opinions are valid and logical; owtherwise, they will not be worth reading. Do not forget to cite any quotes from articles or research you may use in your paper. (I haven't noted my citings yet, I have to go back and do that! =))

One might think of a privilege as a special advantage or right possessed by an individual or group, as defined in the dictionary. I agreed with this definition until last year when I moved to West Virginia. After going to the Department of Motor Vehicles to register my vehicle, I had a different understanding of the word "privilege."

West Virginia has what they call a "privilege tax" law. This tax is imposed upon the privilege of effecting the certification of title of a motor vehicle in the amount equal to five percent of the value of the vehicle at the time of such certification. The value of the vehicle is determined as either the actual purchase price or consideration of the purchaser, if the vehicle is new, or the present market value at the time of transfer or purchase, if the vehicle is used. This law was first enacted in 1935 at two percent of the vehicle value, and was increased to current five percent in 1971.

If a vehicle is titled in another sate and then retitled in West Virginia, or is a used vehicle, the tax is calculated on the lowest N.A.D.A. (National Automobile Dealers Association) value of the vehicle. The down side to this is that no credit is allowed for sales or other title taxes paid to another state.

I also have this to throw in there somewhere:

House Bill 2775 would exempt new state residents from paying the motor vehicle privilege tax. This is a five percent tax paid on the value of a vehicle at the time it is registered in the state. In order to apply for this exemption, a new resident would have to: prove he or she was not a West Virginia resident at the time the person got the vehicle, present evidence the vehicle was titled in the person's previous state, be able to show West Virginia residency, properly report the vehicle to the county assessor, and makes application for registration within 30 days of establishing residency. A three-month amnesty period would be established, as well, during which new residents would be able to transfer their titles to West Virginia without penalty. The bill would also eliminate the privilege tax altogether on July 1, 2008, at which time it would be replaced by a five percent sales tax.

EF_Team2 1 / 1,709  
Apr 13, 2007   #2

I think you're off to a great start with your essay! So far, you have presented what the law is and also what the proposed amendment to the law is. You haven't yet really begun your critique of the law, other than a sardonic observation of the meaning of the word "privilege" (which I thought was an excellent way to begin!). There is plenty to pick apart in this law. For example, when it was first enacted in 1935, the Great Depression was on, and there was quite a divide between the wealthy and--well, everybody else. The financial shenanigans of the "haves" were seen as the cause of the depression, if I recall my history correctly. So, the law was created essentially, it could be argued, as a tax on the rich, during a time when many families still did not own a vehicle. The effect of the law has totally changed over time, so that it impacts virtually everyone, not just the wealthy. No longer is it a tax on the privileged few.

The "down side" of the current law is a big one; if you buy a car in another state, one with a big sales or excise tax, and then move to W. Va., you have to pay again, so the amendment is definitely needed.

The only suggestion I would make for a change to what you've already written is in your second paragraph. I imagine the language "effecting the certification of title of a motor vehicle" comes from the statute. If you're quoting the statute (with appropriate citation), that's fine; but as it is now, you are paraphrasing and it sounds rather stilted. It might be better to put it in your own words, something like, "titling a vehicle" instead of "effecting the certification of title of a motor vehicle."

I hope I've helped you with some ideas!


Sarah, EssayForum.com

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