The passage of a law by the Rhode Island General Assembly that will phase out the Rhode Island Motor Vehicle Tax means a refund or credit for many Newport and Rhode Island taxpayers.

The RI General Assembly recently passed a law phasing out the motor vehicle tax over a five-year period. The schedule calls for a 5% reduction in a vehicle’s value in the first year, which is 2017.

Unfortunately for those in Newport, the passage of the new legislation occurred after Newport’s motor vehicle tax bills had been issued, because motor vehicle taxes are due quarterly.

According to the City of Newport website, “the first quarter bill was due on September 1, 2017. The City will recalculate the tax bills under the recently adopted legislation. This will result in a reduced tax. The reduction in the tax will be applied as a credit toward the remaining balance due for 2017. If you paid your 2017 motor vehicle tax in full, the City will issue you a refund check for the amount of the reduction. All taxpayers will be mailed a statement notifying them of the new motor vehicle assessment and the amount of the credit/refund due to you”.

The General Assembly passed legislation sponsored by President of the Senate Dominick Ruggerio to require the Department of Revenue to file annual reports and recommendations on the feasibility of the car tax phase-out. The legislation was introduced as part of an agreement between the Senate President and House Speaker in July enabling the enactment of a state budget while also addressing concerns of the Senate about the affordability and sustainability of the phase-out.

The legislation (2017-S 1011A) calls for annual reports beginning on January 1, 2021 until the phase-out is complete. The legislation was sent to Governor Raimondo for her consideration. The bill was co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey (D – Dist. 29, Warwick), Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D – Dist. 1, Providence), Senate Finance Committee Chairman William J. Conley, Jr. (D – Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket), and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Erin Lynch Prata (D – Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston).