As I am sure you know, the special Hampton Luxury Tax went into effect August 1. Every day, the license plates of automobiles in the Hamptons and Montauk are scanned from above and billed through Motor Vehicle at the rate of $5 a day. This is the charge that motorists now have to pay for their automobiles to occupy space in the fabulous Hamptons. The money raised goes for infrastructure maintenance—pothole repair, overpasses, bridges and tunnels—and paying the salaries of traffic control police officers who, this summer, have been found necessary to hire by the hundreds.
Now, however, after just two weeks, the tax has been ended, largely because the surveillance system failed as a result of President Donald Trump’s campaign fundraising visit to the Hamptons on Friday, August 9. It was initially thought it failed due to the traffic overload on the system. But it has turned out the failure took place as an accidental side effect by the Secret Service accompanying and protecting Donald Trump and his entourage on that day. Their surveillance system hacked into and scrambled ours.
Trump himself denied everything, tweeting, “What tax? There isn’t any Hamptons Tax? This is all fake news from the Democrats. A witch hunt.”
But that is just one of Trump’s lies. He knows very well what is going on.
The idea to have a special luxury tax on cars in the Hamptons has been in the planning stages since last September. Initially it was to have gone into effect this summer on July 1, but glitches in the software caused the postponement until August 1.
“Our beta testing during June worked well for a few days,” Mayor Brody said. “But then we discovered the surveillance equipment beginning to read the licenses on the collars of dogs being walked and charging the owners from the state data base used for dog licenses. So we had to work that out.”
Now the Mayor says it might have been a good thing that the system failed after August 9.
“There is now a new and much more powerful software system on the market that is able to do this. And we have obtained it, purchasing the plan from a Chinese firm just two days before tariffs imposed on it went into effect. It includes 10 years of upgrade guarantees, too. We’re under the wire.”
The new system will be undergoing extensive installation and testing for the next four months, with the intention of taking it live on Memorial Day weekend in 2020. They are holding off until then because the Mayor wants to spare the local community from having to pay the daily tax over the winter, when it otherwise could go live.
“Also,” the Mayor said, “the new system, called CHEN, which stands for something, has many more nuances than our current compromised U.S. system. For example, it can differentiate between a local and a summer person’s car. It can be programmed to exempt the owners of any automobiles registered to any of our local ZIP codes. And it can prevent the summer people from taking advantage of a local registration by not exempting BMWs, Teslas, Lamborghinis, Mercedes, Cadillacs, Lincolns, Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, Audis, Lexi, and other expensive brands that are registered in these local ZIP codes. It’s extremely sophisticated, this software.”
CHEN will be able to read the license numbers of not only automobiles and dogs, but also helicopters, private planes and limousines. The $5 a day tax will be charged to the owners for the comings and goings of these vehicles and aircraft.
“And of course, it will be able to trump any hacking attempt, not only by the Secret Service, but also by Russia, Chechnya, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Guatemala and Colombia, where drug lords have this sort of equipment. It will not exempt China from hacking, however, although we expect an illegal U.S. hacking company we have hired that works out of a basement from somewhere to do the job—and the Chinese are agreeable we might try that. These are nice people, the Chinese.”
Other people the Chinese surveillance system can read to charge the $5 a day tax include pedestrians on Main Street. It pairs facial-recognition software to Social Security numbers and bank accounts to make the charge—all then forwarded to the Hamptons bank account direct from Beijing, of course.
“We are particularly proud of another feature the new software will be programmed to tax. It’s called the Pushy Tax. It collects an additional $10 every day on every motorist who weaves in and out of traffic or sneaks in front of other motorists or blocks driveways—even for a minute, as they say—or just parks too far from the curb, speeds, goes unnecessarily slowly or behaves very selfishly and badly. And again, it can separate the locals from the summer people, to give the locals a break. It also will collect an extra $10 a day for any pedestrian who is found cutting to the head of a line, or any dog owner who fails to pick up dog poop.”
There is also a special button the Mayor can press that activates a $50-a-day fine on anyone the Mayor wants to nudge out of town, at his discretion.
And this is just the beginning.
“We are working on new software not yet offered by CHEN that would charge an extra $10 tax for any motorist trying to make a left turn without wearing the proper yellow Left Turn baseball cap with the black L on it. Motorists not stopping to allow left turns by those wearing the Left Turn Hats, as they are called, will be fined $20. The hats, of course, as always, are available for sale at Town Hall for just $200 each, and are good for the year. Next year’s colors are mauve and puce.”
As a footnote to this story, please know that all the Hampton Luxury Tax money raised during the month of July with our old system has been credited back. Fact is, the database of who got charged, and the amount, vanished during the Trump visit, so we couldn’t proceed with getting any of it, anyway. So it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut used to say.
Shame on the Secret Service.