This month, its 15th day specifically, looms large on everybody’s calendar. It’s the day by which we all are obliged to account for our income and the portion we’ve shared with the rest of society. By this date, too, we learn whether we’ve over shared and how much we will be refunded or whether we’ve come up short and need to write Uncle Sam a check. Since the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) last year, past performance is not necessarily indicative of what to expect this year.
Not everybody is aware of this change, which, there is reason to believe, could negatively affect auto sales. A recent survey by autolist.com, a new-and used-car search engine, found that 64 percent of people over 65 know that the TCJA could change the size of their refund. Only 45 percent of respondents aged 18 to 28 claimed to be aware of this possibility.
Many households rely on their annual tax refund to purchase big-ticket items. The autolist survey found that, overall, 43 percent of respondents planned on using some or all of their refund to buy a vehicle this year. It is the younger group — those between 18 and 28 — that was the most acquisitive in this regard: 59 percent intended a vehicle purchase. Only 26 percent of respondents over 65 had such plans.
So here’s the fly in the ointment: While, across all age groups in the survey, 39 percent of respondents expect an increase in their tax refund this year, early filings showed the size of refunds actually decreasing and, worse, the percentage of taxpayers receiving any refund at all dropping by a quarter. This trend could, of course, reverse as returns are processed, but initial indications are that some respondents will have to put their car-buying plans on the backburner.
From the Netherlands comes news that might not help you buy a car but will make it easier to pay to have it washed. AVUTEC, a Dutch manufacturer of automatic number plate recognition cameras, has added payment capabilities to its product. Next to interfacing with access controllers and video management systems, the camera can now also initiate financial transactions, the company says. By integrating secure payment software into the camera it is able to make automated payments on behalf of the car owner. The company plans to deploy its “PayByPlate” technology this year in areas like parking facilities, tolls, car washes, and gas stations.
While on the subject of auto tech, a report from Israel shows that there is more to the connected car than shopping and entertainment. Magen David Adom, the Israeli emergency medical service provider, has reportedly begun using sensors already built into late-model cars to detect if the car has been in an accident. The sensors report the exact location of the accident (with 100 percent accuracy in an Israeli test) and can give specifics regarding the driver’s and passengers’ expected injuries (with 92 percent accuracy in the test) based upon the impact of the vehicle. It reduces ambulance alert time from five minutes to mere seconds.
While the safety and efficacy of autonomous vehicles and even some advanced driver-assistance systems are still open to debate, there can be little doubt that the connected car provides not only convenience by also life-saving benefits.