UPDATED: Every Which Way They Can Stick It to You Slyly
So, yeah, the General Assembly has managed to keep its hands pretty clean when it comes to raising taxes, but Rhode Islanders shouldn’t expect to have more money in their pockets — at least not unless they get involved in local government right now. As we’ve seen, in Tiverton, the state bureaucracy is willing to be complicit in complete flouting of the law and regulations when it comes to local officials’ desire to tax residents more.
Now, as Marc mentioned, yesterday, the General Assembly has removed almost all of the exemption that prevents towns from taxing the first $6,000 of your car’s value, enabling town governments to increase taxes almost passively. In Tiverton, that means another $105.27 per year on cars valued over that amount.
But here’s an interesting edit of the legislation, on the General Assembly’s part:
The excise tax rates and ratios of assessment shall be maintained at a level identical to the level in effect for fiscal year 1998 for each city, town, and fire district; provided, in the town of Johnston the excise tax rate and ratios of assessment shall be maintained at a level identical to the level in effect for fiscal year 1999 levels
and in no event shall the final taxable value of a vehicle be higher than assessed in the prior fiscal year, and the levy of a city, town, or fire district shall be limited to the lesser of the maximum taxable value or net assessed value for purposes of collecting the tax in any given year.
Inasmuch as there’s no language restricting increased assessments to classics, it would appear that a town now has the ability to decide that your car is worth more than it was last year. Presumably if the mileage goes down or you remodel its kitchen.
In the comments, John offers the explanation:
The language was changed because the taxable value of most cars will necessarily increase due to the lowering of the exemption. My $15,000 car would have a $9,000 taxable value with a $6,000 exemption. When the exemption drops to $500, the taxable value is increased to $14,500. Therefore, if the locals are to tax the vehicle at the higher “taxable value”, the law needed to be amended.