Lawmaker's bill would reform RI car tax

The highest car tax in the country is in Rhode Island, an average of $1,133 per car, according to WalletHub.

It's no surprise to Rhode Island drivers like Roger Forsythe, who said he's aware of "very old cars that are getting taxed more on the tax than what it was worth when it as new."

When asked if he thinks that's fair, he said, "Absolutely not. I mean there's more honest ways of raising taxes than that."

Several lawmakers are proposing changes to make the system a little more honest. One of them is state Rep. Joseph McNamara, D-Warwick, who for the past four years has introduced a bill to change the way cars are valued.

Currently, the state decides vehicle worth by using a standard of clean condition, virtually mint. McNamara's bill would change that to the resale value of a car, or the amount of money the owner good get for it from a buyer.

That's what McNamara finds voters are most upset about.

"They're not being taxed on the true value of their vehicle, so they find it very offensive. People are very upset," McNamara said.

He is fully aware that the car tax is used by municipalities to fund their operations and that changing the value will decrease their revenue.

"They've got to find another place. Eventually, they have to find another place to get it," McNamara said.

His bill would gradually eliminate the tax over three years. It's been estimated that the car tax is worth about $40 million a year to municipalities.

McNamara said he's hoping his bill will get more support than in past years because Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and Gov. Gina Raimondo both talked about car tax reform during their campaigns.

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