- Question: What is the tangible property tax?
The tangible property tax generally is a tax assessed by a city or town on all personal property owned and used in connection with your business. A tangible property tax will also be assessed on your mobile home. Tangible property taxes do not include real estate taxes which is a separate tax. Tangible property taxes are assessed in accordance with Title 44 Chapter 5 of the Rhode Island General Laws.
- Question: How is the tangible property tax assessed?
Under law you are required each year by March 15th to file an account listing an inventory of all your tangible property used in your business as of December 31 of the preceding year. This accounting is sometimes referred to as the annual return. The tax assessor will then assess the tangible tax based on his or her determination of the value of that property.
- Question: What happens if I do not file the annual return?
If you do not file the annual return accounting for all your taxable tangible property the tax assessor will make his/her own estimate of the value of the property. Even if that estimate is wrong you are liable to pay the tax. It is important to file the account to the tax assessor each and every year because failure to file the annual return causes a permanent waiver of any right to contest the amount of the tax assessment.
- Question: Can I contest the assessment of tangible property tax?
Assuming you filed the annual return for the tax year at issue and you believe you were over assessed, the only way to contest the tax is through the strict statutory procedure in Rhode Island General Laws §44-5-26. The procedure must be commenced by you no later than ninety (90) days from the latest date the tax could be paid without penalty. Otherwise your right to contest the tax is waived and expired. Rhode Island General Laws §44-5-27 provides a procedure to contest the legality of the tax but that process must also be commenced no later than ninety (90) days from the latest date the tax could be paid without penalty.
- Question: Why do I have to pay interest/penalty on the tangible tax?
Rhode Island General Laws mandate that interest/penalty accrue on unpaid property taxes.
- Question: I never received a tax bill so why should I have to pay the tax and the interest/penalty?
Rhode Island General Laws §44-34-3(e) provides that failure of the city/town to send or failure of the property owner to receive a tax bill does not excuse the obligation to pay the tax when due. It is our position that the ownership or use of taxable tangible personal property is notice that a tax will be assessed as required under state law. If you did not receive a tax bill it is your legal obligation to inquire with the tax collector.