Virginia man pays $3,000 sales tax bill with pennies

Click to play video: 'Virginia man pays $3,000 DMV tax bill with pennies'
Virginia man pays $3,000 DMV tax bill with pennies
WATCH: Nick Stafford wheeled in five wheelbarrows full of unrolled pennies to his local DMV – Jan 16, 2017

A Virginia man paid off the nearly US$3,000 sales tax on two new cars in pennies because he said he felt inconvenienced by the government agency.

Last Wednesday, Nick Stafford wheeled in five wheelbarrows of unrolled pennies to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office in Lebanon, Va. They weighed in at around 725 kilograms (1,600 lbs).

In interviews with various news outlets, Stafford said he was frustrated by the lack of transparency by the DMV and decided to pay his balance in pennies as an act of protest.

“Since they were going to take time out of my day, I was going to extend that same courtesy to them,” he said.

Stafford’s frustration began in September when he tried to call the DMV for clarification on in which county he should register a new car. He owns several properties across the state.

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READ MORE: Man cashes in over $5K in pennies after collecting them for 45 years

He was put on hold at a call centre for around an hour and couldn’t find the direct number to his local branch. So he filed a Freedom of Information Act request and was provided the number.

He said that when he called the number, the person who picked up told him he wasn’t allowed to call that line and then hung up on him. He called them back over and over until his registration question was answered.

But he wasn’t satisfied.

He told The Bristol Herald Courier that he asked for the phone numbers of nine other DMV branches “to prove a point,” which he said was covered under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Lebanon DMV refused to give Stafford those numbers so he decided to sue them, filing three lawsuits (one against the DMV itself and two against employees).

“I have zero tolerance for any government employee refusing to follow the laws of the Commonwealth,” wrote Stafford.

“It shouldn’t matter if you pay $300 per year in income taxes or pay $300,000 just in state in federal taxes like myself, because the backbone of a free democracy/republic begins with government transparency, period.”

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On Tuesday, a judge at the Russell County General District Court dismissed the lawsuits after a representative from Virginia’s attorney general’s office gave Stafford the nine phone numbers in question.

“The phone numbers are irrelevant to me. I don’t need them,” Stafford told the newspaper. “I told the judge, ‘I think I proved my point here.’”

According to Stafford’s website, where he had been documenting the entire process, the staff at the Lebanon DMV had to count the pennies by hand because their automated machines kept jamming.

“The DMV employees are being very respectful and accommodating considering the situation,” he wrote.

It reportedly took around seven hours until the final penny was counted.

The Bristol Herald Courier estimated that Stafford spent just over US$1,000 to prove his point, including the cost of the labour he hired to unroll the pennies, the wheelbarrows and the lawsuits.


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