Motor Vehicle Excise Tax
All Rhode Island residents who own and register a motor vehicle or trailer must annually pay a motor vehicle excise tax. The excise tax is levied by the city/town where the vehicle(s) is/are principally garaged and the revenues become part of the local community treasury.
The motor vehicle excise tax is based on the number or days each vehicle or trailer was registered during the preceding calendar year. For example, tax bills issued this year, cover vehicle registrations from January 1 to December 31 of the previous year. The motor vehicle tax is pro-rated to the actual number of days the vehicle was registered.
The Rhode Island Vehicle Value Commission was created to annually establish presumptive values of vehicles and trailers subject to excise tax (RI General Law 44-34-11). The commission shall by rule adopt a methodology for determining the presumptive value of vehicles and trailers subject to the excise tax which gives consideration to the following factors:
(i)The average retail price of similar vehicles of the same make, model, type, and year of manufacture as reported by motor vehicle dealers or by official used car guides, as that of the National Automobile Dealers Association for New England. Where regional guides are not available, the commission shall use other publications deemed appropriate; and
(ii) Other information concerning the average retail prices for make, model, type, and year of manufacture of motor vehicles as the director and the Rhode Island Vehicle Value Commission may deem appropriate to determine fair values.
Figures are the manufacturers’ retail list prices for vehicles in their year of manufacture. Present market value, price paid, or condition, are not considered for excise tax purposes. The excise tax law (RI General Law 44-34-11) established a formula for valuation for tax purposes whereby the manufacturer’s retail list price and the age of the vehicle are considered.
Change of Address
All address changes must be made through the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Every February the state forwards the Motor Vehicle file to the towns for processing of the tax bills. Your tax bills are then generated from this file. Mailing addresses are generated from the Department of Motor Vehicles ONLY. If you do not change your address with the DMV you many not receive your tax bill for your vehicle. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are paying local taxes on your vehicle, regardless if you receive a tax bill. If you become delinquent on your taxes you will not be able to renew your registration without obtaining stamp from the tax collector clearing the registration for renewal. Please forward a copy of the change of address form submitted to the state to the assessor’s office as well. If you move out of State you will be billed by your former municipality until the registration(s) is/are canceled and plates returned to the Registry. Click here for more information
Sold / Stolen / Transfer / Junked Vehicles
If you dispose of a vehicle by any means (sale, transfer, theft, collision, junked, etc) you must cancel the registration to avoid further taxes. When a registration is canceled, the taxes for that registration will stop as of the date of cancellation. At the time of plate cancellation, the registry issues a form TR-3 "Cancellation of plates receipt." Retain this document as it is your only proof that the plates were canceled. When a registration is properly canceled, the taxes for that registration will stop as of the date of cancellation. However, because the Excise Tax covers the prior calendar year, you may receive a tax bill for this registration. The motor vehicle tax will be pro-rated to the actual number of days the vehicle was registered.
The RI Department of Motor Vehicles Data Control phone number is 401-462-5720.