Car-tax hikes leave owners fuming

Overhead Door Garage Headquarters President Scott Grace has more than the usual Rhode Island horror story about an old truck with a huge vehicle excise tax bill – he has 20 such stories to go with his fleet of trucks. More

To continue reading this article, please do one of the following.


Car-tax hikes leave owners fuming

TAXING IDEA: Overhead Door Garage Headquarters President Scott Grace, left, and his father, Chairman James Grace. The company saw its car-tax bill for each of its Rhode Island trucks rise 30 percent this year.
Posted 12/26/11

Overhead Door Garage Headquarters President Scott Grace has more than the usual Rhode Island horror story about an old truck with a huge vehicle excise tax bill – he has 20 such stories to go with his fleet of trucks.

Complaints about the size of motor-vehicle excise tax bills in the state are nothing new, but since lawmakers facing a budget crisis last year allowed cities and towns to lower the standard $6,000 vehicle tax exemption, grumbling has turned to outrage.

Now, spurred by angry constituents and business groups, a number of state and local officials have come out in support of changing the law that spells out how vehicles in the state are valued for tax purposes.

Grace’s Warwick-based company, which sells and installs garage doors throughout the Northeast, relies on those trucks to get employees and materials to job sites throughout the region.

But when Grace receives his vehicle tax bills each year, the 2004 GMC truck parked in Warwick costs about four times more in tax than a similar truck parked at Overhead Door’s Norwood, Mass., office.

In this year alone, the tax bill for each Rhode Island truck rose 30 percent, Grace said.

So as the company expands and hires more workers, Grace said those added tax costs are making him consider moving operations across the border to Massachusetts or Connecticut.

“It is pretty eye-opening the spread between what we are paying in Rhode Island versus Massachusetts,” Grace said. “We have some decisions to make about where we put some resources in the future, about where we hire people. This is a contributing factor.”

Rep. Joseph McNamara, D-Warwick, has pre-filed a bill for next year’s legislative session that would require the age and condition of a vehicle to be taken into account in determining its value.

“This is a very difficult, regressive tax. What we want to do is give people a more accurate assessment,” he said.

McNamara’s hometown of Warwick has been a hotbed of car-tax discontent this year after the city, facing an $11 million budget gap, cut its vehicle tax exemption from $6,000 all the way to the $500 minimum.

The change meant that residents and businesses with old clunkers worth less than $6,000, who previously had never received a tax bill for those vehicles, were charged for the first time while the owners of cars already over the limit saw their bills skyrocket.

Next Page
1 comment on this story | Add your comment
Please log in or register to add your comment
Small Business

Massachusetts has a declining valuation until a vehicle reaches a five year limit. So, if after five years, your vehicle is worth $5,000, you are taxed at the $5,000 level for as long as you keep the car on the road.

Friday, December 30, 2011 | Report this
PBN Hosted

Register today for the First Annual PBN Manufacturing Awards Dinner and Ceremony, Thursday, April 24th, at the Bryant University Bello Center. Click here for more information, including the list of winners.
  • Business Women
    Accomplished. Confident. Wicked Smart. Nominate women you know who deserve speci ...
  • 40 Under Forty
    It's the 10th Anniversary of 40 Under Forty, and PBN is planning a special event ...
  • Healthiest Employers
    Enrollment now open for the 2014 Healthiest Employers Program. Please take a mom ...
Purchase Data
Book of Lists
Book of Lists cover
PBN's annual Book of Lists has been an essential resource for the local business community for almost 30 years. The Book of Lists features a wealth of company rankings from a variety of fields and industries, including banking, health care, real estate, law, hospitality, education, not-for-profits, technology and many more.
Data icons
Data can be purchased as single lists, in either Excel or PDF format; the entire database of the published book, in Excel format; or a printed copy of the Book of Lists.
  • Purchase an e-File of a single list
  • Purchase an e-File of the entire Book of Lists database
  • Purchase a printed copy of the Book of Lists
    Latest News