If it seems that this year’s tax bills are a little later than usual, that’s because they went into the mail about a week later than customary.
“Everyone is doing it at the same time,” explained city Tax Assessor and Collector Kenneth Mallette of D3 Logic, the East Greenwich company that handles the mailing of Warwick bills and those of several other municipalities.
This year is also a larger than usual mailing with the elimination of the $5,500 exemption on motor vehicles, resulting in an additional 30,000 bills for an overall total of 125,000.
Mallette expects there to be questions. He urges people to be patient.
“We only have a limited number of people [staff].”
Yet he urges people to call rather than visit the office in the City Hall Annex. Among the most frequently asked questions are about how values were established and why they are getting a tax bill when, for example, they no longer own a car. Values are set as of Dec. 31.
“They are still responsible,” Mallette said in the case of someone having sold a car, “based on the fact that they owned it the prior year - that it was owned in 2010.”
Mallette also anticipates questions on the removal of the $5,500 motor vehicle exemption, an action that is projected to raise an additional $10.3 million in tax revenues. Nonetheless, $500 of a motor vehicle’s value is still exempted. The state has a uniform system of establishing motor vehicle values using the National Automobile Dealers Association handbook. On vehicles that are 5 years old or older, it applies a discount.
Mallette said the tax is based on either the discounted value or the value of the vehicle with the $500 exemption applied, whichever is less.
Mallette also expects questions over whether people can make monthly rather than quarterly payments. This can be arranged, but Mallette reminds taxpayers they are responsible for interest payments of 1 percent per month on the total uncollected portion of the bill, should they fail to make a payment. The same interest is applied to those that fail to pay quarterly bills on time.
The exception is the first quarterly payment due July 15. While that date remains unchanged, Mallette said, as customary, the city would be processing payments throughout the month without the late charge.
Despite numerous reminders that tax bills can be paid by mail, Mallette expects there to be lines out the door beginning this week. He estimates several thousand taxpayers insist on paying in person.
“They like to pay cash and have a receipt,” he said.
Bills can also be paid online through a service provided at a cost of 2.5 percent of the payment. The system that can be accessed through the city website can also be used to pay sewer and water bills.
This year’s tax rates are $17.69 and $26.54 per $1,000 of valuation on residential and commercial property respectively. The motor vehicle rate of $34.60 is unchanged, although, with removal of the exemption, those people owning a vehicle valued at $6,000 or more can expect to pay an additional $190.30 in taxes.