Motor Vehicles

Excise Tax

The Motor Vehicle Excise Tax is a tax on the privilege of registration and is based on the number of days the vehicle or trailer was registered during the preceding calendar year. Motor vehicles are taxed in arrears. For example, tax bills issued in 2016 cover vehicle registrations from January 1, 2015 to December 31 2015. The motor vehicle tax is pro-rated to the actual number of days the vehicle is registered. Taxation of the vehicle or trailer is based on license plate activity from the previous year. All motor vehicle and trailer registration information is provided to the Town by the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles.

RIGL § 44-34-11 (C)(1) directs the Rhode Island Vehicle Value Commission to adopt by rule a methodology for determining the presumptive value of motor vehicles subject to the excise tax. The purpose of the methodology is to determine the value of motor vehicles using information concerning the make, model, type, and year of manufacture to be used in the determination of the excise taxes based on December 31, 2015.

All motor vehicles, motorcycles and commercial trucks are based on the 'clean retail' value as reflected in the NADA pricing guides (National Automobile Dealers Association pricing guides). The 'clean retail' value reflected in the NADA pricing guidelines does not take into consideration the condition or the total mileage of the vehicle.

State & Town Exemptions

As part of the State's Motor Vehicle Excise Tax phase out, a $500 assessment state exemption is applied to each vehicle on a pro-rated basis.  In addition, the Town of South Kingstown provides an addition $2,500 exemption, allowing residents to receive a combined $3,000 Motor Vehicle Excise Tax exemption.

Sell or Junk Your Car?  Or Did You Move?

If a vehicle is sold, disposed of, or if you move out of Rhode Island and register your vehicle in another state, you must cancel your registration and return your vehicle's license plates to the Rhode Island Registry of Motor Vehicles in order to avoid further taxes.  When a registration is canceled, the taxes for that registration will stop as of the date of cancellation.  In addition, if you move out of South Kingstown, you must update your address properly to ensure being billed for your Motor Vehicle Excise Tax by the appropriate city or town.  Address changes related to Motor Vehicle Excise Tax need to be made through the Rhode Island Registry of Motor Vehicles... Changing your address on your drivers license with the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) does not change the address for your vehicle registration.

Appealing Motor Vehicle Assessment

Under Rhode Island General Laws, §44-34-9, excise tax on motor vehicles can be appealed to the Rhode Island Vehicle Value Commission within 45 days of the mailing of the tax bill. The final day to appeal is August 19, 2016. Appeal forms can be downloaded from this site or one can be picked up or mailed by contacting the Tax Assessor's Office. After filing deadline of August 19, 2016 inquires regarding motor vehicle values can be made by contacting the Assessor Office directly.

Motor vehicle excise taxes must be paid even though an appeal has been submitted. If the assessment appeal results in an assessment reduction, then a tax credit will be issued through the Tax Collector's Office.