September 2, 2014
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‘Enough study,’ Cote says of car tax proposals

Car Tax Revolt leader Rob Cote said he knows some people are sick of hearing him run his mouth at meetings and hearings, but there’s one particular phrase he is tired of hearing in terms of the car tax issue: “This bill is being held for further study.”

“Everyone agrees that the tax is not fair and that it doesn’t reflect the actual value of a piece of property, but the first words out of their mouths is that it’s being held for further study,” Cote said during a recent phone interview, “It should be a priority.”

Cote is referring to legislation Rep. K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) drafted and was heard by the House Finance Committee Tuesday. The bill is similar to one Rep. Joseph McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) submitted last year, as it seeks to assess motor vehicles based on the average trade in value opposed to the full clean retail value.

Unlike the McNamara bill, which Cote helped draft, the new bill doesn’t include a portion that would have allowed taxpayers to appeal the tax with an appraisal from a local car dealer. Cote said he advised Shekarchi to remove that portion before submitting the bill, and Shekarchi did.

“It’s a spotlessly clean bill,” Cote said. “It’s fair, it’s equitable and it’s just.”

Shekarchi agrees that the bill is fair. He said while he initially drafted legislation that would have issued a flat tax based on the age of a vehicle, it didn’t receive much support from colleagues and citizens alike. He changed course after Cote contacted him and made a few suggestions.

“The latest bill before you is a bill that I think works,” Shekarchi said at the hearing. “It taxes a fairer value and that’s all people are looking for. People know they have to pay a tax, but they want to pay a fair share and not an inflated value. The car tax, in my opinion, is one of the most regressive taxes … when I campaigned door-to-door, people were upset about a tax on a value that was not correct. That’s the big issue before the Committee.”

He went on to say he is aware that there are multiple bills relative to car taxes and he hopes the committee will use the best parts of each and come together to provide relief for taxpayers. That is the goal at hand.

“My bill is a very simple bill and I want to accomplish some good for the taxpayers,” he said.

But Peder A. Schaefer, associate director of the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns, said it isn’t that simple. He asked for a fiscal note for the bill, and expressed concern that the bill would be implemented in 2014 when communities like South Kingstown are approving their budgets this week.

“They are approving their budgets based on the laws that are in place right now,” he said. “They are using values of motor vehicles as of December 31, 2012. They’ve already based their budgets upon those values in the law that applied at that time. I don’t dispute that a change needs to be made, but it needs to be made over a two-year period and we need to have the numbers run for us.”

Cote wasn’t pleased with Schaefer’s remarks. At the hearing, he told Schaefer that because Shekarchi’s bill is “basically identical” to the bill McNamara introduced last year and was held for further study, the League of Cities and Towns had plenty of time to look into it.

“What further study did you do?’” Cote said. “Did you do any further study? What further study did this body do? I don’t think there was any further study. In fact, the general consensus is that bills that are held for further study go into the waste can. When a bill like this comes before you, start to sharpen your pencil and do some homework. I don’t see that that’s happened.”

Cote said he’s also fed up with hearing the argument that if the bill is implemented, it will only result in higher property taxes, as cities and towns need it to continue their revenue streams. But raising property taxes isn’t the solution, he said. He has another solution in mind.

“Our local budgetary processes are not going to be repaired until we start to restrict the cash flow to them,” Cote said. “That revenue needs to continue to keep the status quo of out of control spending, fictitious estimates of rates of returns on pension programs, unfunded liabilities for health care, [and] waste and abuse in departments. This is what happens when we have these types of taxes … and we need to do something about that … the debt rises and we keep having to have taxes like this particular car tax.”

Cote said he hopes the bill is soon moved out of committee for a vote.


Comments
8 comments on this item

Yeah I'm tired of my taxes going up every year. Tired of it. Every year I have to pay more on my mortgage escrow. Sucks. Than the car tax bill comes in. Why should we be taxed on having vehciles sitting in our driveway that we have to use to get to work? The only vehicles that should be taxed on people's properties are the luxury stuff. You want to have a recreational boat, atv, rv, etc... but common sedans that people need and use for everyday living isn't right.

Why not a flat tax $300 for a car $400 for a truck under10,000 pound GVW $100 every 5,000 pounds over 10,000 camper & motorcycles $250 they are not used all the time. This tax is for the roads because you have a nice car (not a oil leaking junk damaging the roads )you should not be penalized because you buy a new car we all use the same roads why should we all pay different price to use them it's not rocket science

Taxedtodeath,

You are already paying .52c per gal. of gas for road use taxes. Which by the way, in RI, have been squandered and not used correctly. Do you want to give them more money to waste?

I don't pay 600 a year for 2 vehicles now I don't think. Of course 1 is 10 years old ! Can't afford new vehicles. Quite frankly I don't know how people can in this state, nor why. The roads suck. Winters kill them. Taxed insanely. Big car payments. But, places like Inskip are looking like Foxwoods. So some one is buying cars. Whether or not they are having them repo'd cause they get in over their heads in another story. But, it is so true as soon as you drive that brand new car off the lot you have already lost something like 3,000.

The car tax is an excellent example of how RI operates: If you stick it to taxpayers long enough, they will quibber about the rate and not the fact the tax exists in the first place. If the City of Warwick mposed a "modest" 1% tax toIt's the pick up garbage, I'm sure some would dispute the rate, but everntually capitualate. It's the same with the state. What, exactly, are you receiving for a state income and sales tax that residents of NH are NOT receiving for their lack of a sales or income tax???!!! We can debate NH"s property tax rates. But we can not debate NH's status as lowest total taxed state in the country. All the while, the roads are good. The dropout rate low. SAT's are high. Bottom line: When you let the tax camel's nose in the tent, the only remaining question is: Where should he take a dump? Keep in mind, both RI's sales tax (at 1%) and income tax (also at 1%) were deemed "temporary" when passed>

I don't like the car tax but nothing will change this year. Towns have and are adopting budgets with the the money from the car taxes in them. If there was going to be a change then it should have been done months ago so that wouldn't be an issue.

This is why my next new car will be bought and registered outside of RI, just like the state and city retirees do. I am fed up having to pay their pensions as well as their share of excise tax. As for a flat tax, it places more of a burden on the poor whose vehicle is not worth the tax, this only benefits luxury car owners. RI is one of the very few states that actually have this tax, my out of state friends are always amazed that we would be paying a tax on something that you already own!

Just Because is as bad as Nesi

Google: Raimondo Forbes Nesi - read it and wake up you dummies.

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