DISCLOSURE: Due to a change in the law regarding emissions tags, this article is out of date in some respects.
Lately in the news Mexican rich people and politicians are having a horrible time. La estafa maestra and the paradise papers haven’t been exactly good for them. But above all of this for car people, its the subject of the infamous Morelos license plates and registration.
But a little bit of context first.
As far as I know, if you own a car in the valley of Mexico or in other wealthy states in Mexico your car will pay road tax. In Mexico City we pay the most expensive road tax, this one calculated by the government using fixed depreciation rates they decide. It is outrageously expensive, and hated because most of the money has dubious usages afterwards. If your car is worth more than 72 thousand dollars you could find yourself paying 20% of its showroom cost in road tax on the first year. Their factored depreciation rate is about 50% of the car’s value after five years. But it’s stupid because after seven years, no matter if your car is a 3/4 ton suburban or a Honda CRZ it will be subject to the “Hoy no circula” rules, which state that cars older than seven years, regardless of their emissions, cannot obtain the “Cero” or “Doble Cero” tags that allow to drive every day, making 7 year old cars effectively worthless.
So, because of this, Chilangos began registering their cars in ghost addresses (Think P/O boxes) in far away states of Mexico that had no road tax (the more sketchy hired lawyers and registered their cars as company cars with lease plans). All of this wasn’t even done with sketchy lawyers, no... Fucking dealers would do it for you! It was then that the Mexico City government pounced into action and made a special ordinance.
Under the guise of being “worried” about emissions, the goverment of Mexico City prohibited cars from other states from driving in Mexico City, instead they would default into the harshest setting for Hoy No Circula. If you had a car foreign to Mexico City and it wasn’t smog checked you wouldn’t be able to drive it daily unless you filled out a permit that would only let you drive it for a few days or weeks every semester!
This was an issue for the 14 million people living in the metro area of Mexico City, an area that is covered by up to three states! Come in, CAMMe.
United under the guise of the Environmental Commission for the Megalopolis, the government regularized the system. The states that are part of CAMMe have strict biannual smog inspections that adhere to Mexico City’s standard, if your car was registered within those states it could be used in Mexico City daily with its state smog test. If it was registered in a state without smog inspections, or with less thorough inspections it wouldn’t, fucking up many chilango’s scheme.
But, guess which state doesn’t charge significant road taxes and is part of CAMMe?
So rich Chilangos switched from far regions to a tiny, landlocked state to the south of our city. They get the tags and simply run in Mexico City. To make matters worse, the system is still handled by dealers but now they use the same fucking address in a private community. So now a small house in a remote community is the place of registration of Ferraris, BMWs, Audi RSs and other stupidly expensive cars. I wouldn’t give a flying shit about this if the exploits of the rich were available to everyone and Mexico City was a tax-avoiding utopia filled with interesting cars (which have a tendency to be more expensive)
But it isn’t, and only luxury dealers and rich people with access to bribe money can do it. It’s said that this evasion of taxes costs Mexico City upwards of two billion Pesos yearly, also known as what it cost to build the elevated ring road.