The city of Newport is one of several communities in the state that is forgiving tax penalties and interest, and is also suggesting there may be additional relief for individuals and businesses that continue to suffer financial hardship because of the coronavirus.

“We have pushed the deadline back to June 30 and will work with any resident or business on payments,” said Newport Mayor Jamie Bova.

Bova told What’s Up Newp that the City of Newport changed its policy on 4th quarter taxes on March 17th and that the city will abate all penalties and interest on fourth quarter taxes due on May 5th until June 30, 2020.

In response to a question from WUN about the city’s tax position, Bova also said, “All taxes must be paid by June 30, 2020 unless other arrangements have been made with the City and approved. 

“Businesses and individuals that have been financially harmed by the coronavirus may apply for additional relief by downloading our online application and emailing it or mailing it to: lsitrin@cityofnewport.com, or Finance Director, 43 Broadway, Newport RI 02840,” Bova said.  “Financial relief measures may include further delay of the 4th quarter taxes or establishment of a payment plan approved by the City. Decisions will be made on a case-to-case basis. Please call 401-845-5394 if you need an application mailed to you or have any questions.”

Bova made her comments as federal bailout plans for beleaguered businesses were unraveling. Lt. Gov. Dan McKee said this afternoon that applications for the Small Business Administration’s paycheck protection payment loans were suspended because of high demand. 

The New York Times earlier today reported that businesses applying for loans under the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program now can only expect a fraction of what was promised. The Times reported that “in the face of the pandemic, the loan program is drowning in requests,” with applicants waiting weeks for approval of loans that were supposed to reach $2 million and now capped at $15,000 per borrower.

We asked Mark Hayward, district director of the SBA in Rhode Island for comment, and he said he was referring the question to SBA officials in Washington D.C. 

That all comes as a national survey by Wallet Hub, released this morning, said 87 percent of small businesses owners “say their businesses are hurting from the coronavirus, and 35 percent say their business cannot last more than three months in current conditions.”

The difficulty for cities and towns is that much of their revenues come from taxes paid by a business community that’s hurting, and from many individuals who have lost their jobs, at least temporarily.

Newport, Smithfield and East Providence have now all implemented tax relief programs. Others communities to not yet announce tax relief programs include East Providence, Smithfield, East Greenwich, North Kingstown, Lincoln, North Providence, and New Shoreham.

Mark Schweiger, president of the East Greenwich Town Council, said that “4th quarter property taxes are not due until June. We have not addressed this issue at the present time.”

We checked the web sites of North Kingstown, Lincoln, North Providence, and New Shoreham and there was nothing readily visible that would indicate these towns have approved any tax relief at this time.

On the city’s website, East Providence mayor said “this is a trying time for East Providence families and residents who aren’t working or who have had to temporarily cease business operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This order will provide East Providence families and businesses some relief and decrease financial burdens while he city’s residents and the rest of the world cope with this emergency.”


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