By Elizabeth F. McNamara
The Town of East Greenwich is going after delinquent car tax bills from as far back as from 2010, placing a hold with the state DMV on the car owner’s registration until the back tax is paid.
The total amount of money owed in November, when the town first started working to collect the unpaid taxes, was $1.2 million. As of last week, the town had collected more than $250,000, with 3,496 remaining delinquent accounts totalling $942,000.
Town Manager Andrew Nota said he had not yet ascertained whether or not the town had ever pursued unpaid car taxes. The state allows municipalities to collect taxes back 10 years so that is what East Greenwich is now doing.
East Greenwich’s motor vehicle tax is $22.88 per $1,000 assessed value, so if your car is worth $15,000, your bill would be $342.
What that means in practical terms if yours is one of the delinquent accounts is that when you go to re-up your car registration, you will be told you can’t until you pay off your East Greenwich car tax bill. In East Greenwich. This holds even if you don’t live in East Greenwich any more and haven’t for years. In fact, said Nota, the majority of accounts do belong to people who no longer live in East Greenwich.
Nota said the idea was to develop a system to make sure this doesn’t happen again. There’s already a very successful system in place for unpaid property taxes – the tax sale. If you don’t pay up, you can lose your property.
It’s been a busy time for the finance department, not just with delinquent car tax bills but in general. Leadership changes and staff reductions in recent years had left the department in a certain amount of disarray, including with regard to the town’s own bill paying.
Town Council President Mark Schwager said he learned the town was behind in paying its bills after the last election when he gained the presidency.
“We were not meeting the 60-day standard,” he said. As of this month, however, the town is completely caught up.
“We are paying bills as they are received so we are getting some discounts,” he said, crediting the finance department and Finance Director Patricia Sunderland.
If you think you may owe back car taxes, you can contact the Finance Department at (401) 886-8612 or [email protected].
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