Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) has introduced legislation that would gradually change the way car value is assessed for taxes from clean retail value to trade-in value.
“Most people are not driving around in cars with clean retail value. Almost all of us have cars with trade-in value,” said Representative McNamara, chairman of the House Committee in Health, Education and Welfare. “A car is a necessity for working Rhode Islanders, and we’re taxing it on a false value. We have to work at re-establishing the trust people have in government. Without that trust, our system of taxation will not work when it’s based on false and unfair assessments.”
The bill (2016-H 7231) would amend car tax statutes so that the assessment of used motor vehicles would be reduced to 95 percent of clean retail value for the first year after passage, then 90 percent of the clean retail value for the subsequent year, and thereafter 100 percent of the average trade-in value.
When Representative McNamara introduced this bill during last session, it met with some resistance from municipal officials, who feared a substantial loss in revenue from assessing trade-in value of motor vehicles. The bill introduced this year contains language to ensure that the state indemnifies each city and town for lost revenue by a method to be established by the General Assembly.
“I know many local officials came forward last year with concerns about the financial burden the new assessments would place on their communities,” said Representative McNamara. “That’s why we’ve put in a provision that has the state make up the difference — to remove that burden from the municipalities.”
The bill, which is cosponsored by Representatives Raymond H. Johnston Jr. (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket), Jan P. Malik (D-Dist. 67, Warren, Barrington), Arthur J. Corvese (D-Dist. 55, North Providence) and Samuel A. Azzinaro (D-Dist. 37, Westerly), has been referred to the House Finance Committee.