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Prepare for the crash tax

The taxing possibilities from jurisdictions scrambling for every possible dollar just keep coming.

LiveShots reports that in Central California, a number of smaller cities collect emergency responder fees, or as they are popularly called, crash taxes.

Paramedic using radio in ambulance

The crash tax isn't a new idea. It's been around for years. But in these tough economic times, more city and county officials are revisiting the possibility of charging accident-related fees.

This reminds me of the fees that law enforcement agencies assess when they dispatch a until to answer a mistakenly triggered residential burglary alarm.

But in the case of wrecks, the need for emergency medical treatment isn't a no-harm-no-foul situation. Too often, it literally is a case of life or death.

Paying twice? And what about the argument that your taxes already are paying for the emergency services?

Too bad, say city officials who support a crash tax.

They argue that the charges are necessary to maintain the services at levels that aren't being met by current tax collections. The crash taxes in many cases are earmarked specifically for the emergency units.

Plus, you might not have to pay. Many places that collect crash taxes only assess nonresident drivers involved in wrecks.

And even if you are changed, you probably won't know about it if you have insurance. The fees usually are billed to the involved drivers' auto insurance companies.

Of course, you'll likely end up paying the fee through higher policy charges.

California's capital to decide soon: Sacramento is still gathering data on a crash tax and is expected to decide next month whether to institute such fees.

Just how much would the Golden State's capital city charge for emergency services?

The crash taxes would range from $435 for basic scene stabilization to $1,875 for Jaws of Life extractions to $2,275 for an airlift to a hospital.

Saying no to crash taxes: Some states, however, have said no to crash taxes.

Since 2008, according to AccidentResponseFees.com, 10 states -- Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee -- have outlawed accident response fees.

Have you (or your insurer) ever had to pay a crash tax? Would you support such a fee under certain conditions, such as charges to nonresidents only?

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Comments

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Carol

Interesting post. I guess the money collected from these accidents will greatly help the government. Not to mention that it will somehow make people extra careful on the road. Or so I hope.

Jim Howard

I had a minor fall off my motorcycle during a group ride. Without my knowlege another rider called the Smithville Texas EMS, who came out, checked me over, and we agreed I didn't need further treatment.

I got a bill for $100. That seemed reasonable. I don't know what the general rule about payment for emergency services is here in Texas.

Elizabeth

So, if the fees only apply to non-residents, I can see this happening: I live in Town A and crash in Town B. Town B's ambulance is elsewhere responding to another accident. Town A has a mutual aid agreement, so they respond to my crash. Town B slaps me with a huge bill, even though they didn't help me. Crazy.

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