This won’t be just another year when it comes to paying city taxes.
Yes, there are some changes in the rates, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary.
The difference will come in the form of the bill, especially if you own more than one motor vehicle. For years the city has issued a tax bill for every taxable vehicle regardless of how many vehicles are registered to a single owner – that includes lease companies that might own more than 1,000 cars registered in Warwick. The exception is the car rental companies and fleet owners.
For the first time starting later this month – City Tax Collector Ken Mallette estimates bills will be in the mail next week – those who own multiple vehicles will get a single bill with quarterly payment stubs. Mallette sees the system as saving time and eliminating confusion for everyone.
On the city side, crews will have fewer envelopes to open and checks to process. This means payments will be posted faster and taxpayers won’t be wondering if their payment was lost in the mail when they get their bank statement and see the tax payment as outstanding.
And for the taxpayer, Mallette notes, the chance of thinking that all car payments have been made when in fact one or more was overlooked will be eliminated.
While the tax rate on motor vehicles is unchanged at $34.60 per $1,000 of valuation, the exemption per vehicle will increase from $500 to $2,000 thanks to the mayor’s budget. So, vehicles valued at $2,000 or less won’t be taxed at all.
The combination of the increased exemption and consolidation of bills, Mallette estimates, will reduce the number of motor vehicle tax bills from 83,000 to about 50,000.
Mallette pointed out only vehicles registered to persons with the same name, address, date of birth and license number would receive combined bills. This means, for example, where different members of a family own their own cars they would still receive separate bills.
Also coming up next week is the city’s annual tax sale – the sale of real estate where the owner has failed to pay taxes for two quarters or more.
The sale is set for June 28 at Warwick City Hall. At the time the sale was posted, the city was looking to collect about $4 million in delinquent taxes. That number has dropped significantly, as traditionally happens as taxpayers make payments or reach a plan to pay off the outstanding balance. By the time of the sale, Mallette estimates fewer than 100 properties with a total of $350,000 in back taxes will be listed.
“We start with a lot of properties and by the time we get to the sale we have very little,” Mallette said.
Mallette said the banks have been more proactive in avoiding tax sales by working with homeowners to establish escrow accounts.
“They are being more responsive to homeowner needs,” he said. The objective, he speculated, is that the banks are looking to avoid foreclosures; putting the owner through a tax sale, while they may not lose the property, is an unneeded expense. The combination of the tax sale deed and redemption deed carry a cost of $750.
Mallette estimated the average taxes due on a single-family property at $2,500.
The tax sale later this month will not include sales for the lack of water and sewer payments. A separate sale is planned for this fall on those delinquent accounts.
A reason for the delay is for the department to fully implement enhancements to its data system, acquired recently from its vendor, Munis. Mallette said the system is faster and more user-friendly and when fully installed allows the customer to view their account information and make payments by credit card.
As for the new round of tax bills, they will reflect a 45-cent per $1,000 of valuation increase in the residential rate to $18.14 and an increase in the commercial and industrial and tangible rates to $27.21 and $36.28, respectively.
All told, Mallette said, the city will mail 100,000 tax bills for real estate, motor vehicles and tangibles. The total tax levy is $212.7 million, a $3.5 million (or 1.65 percent) increase from the current fiscal year ending this month. The total city budget is $279.7 million.
Mallette reminded taxpayers that the first quarterly payment is due July 15. Those taxpayers planning to pay their bills in full have until Sept. 15 to make payment.