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Rhode Island REALTORS® Successfully Fight Statewide Property Tax

By HOM Editorial Team
June 2015

Every property owner in Rhode Island currently pays local level property taxes. New legislation this year would have added an extra, statewide property tax. The Rhode Island Association of REALTORS® is taking a strong stance against this proposal.

The proposed tax is contained in Article 11 of House Bill 5900, the state appropriations bill. The tax has been described by the governor of Rhode Island as a tax that would affect only property owners of real estate valued at more than $1 million.

The proposed tax — wrongly dubbed by the media as the “Taylor Swift Tax,” due to the singer’s home in Rhode Island — is a $2.50 tax per $1,000 of property valuation. The tax would affect not just affluent property owners in the state, but would be levied on all non-owner-occupied homes, smaller multi-units if owned by one property owner, mobile home parks and mobile homes, condominiums, and any vacant land that has a valuation of over $1 million.

The Rhode Island Association of REALTORS® is concerned about the affect the tax would have on the housing market. One major issue is what a statewide property tax would do to the market for second homes and vacation homes. Many such homes are valued at over $1 million, and with neighboring states such as Connecticut and Massachusetts not having such high property taxes, this tax could easily cause a decrease Rhode Island’s secondary real estate market.

Members of the Rhode Island Association of REALTORS® have been active in opposition to the tax. REALTORS® have gone to the Legislature to advocate for rejection of the tax proposal, and have gained support from the Speaker of the House. REALTORS® have taken their cause to the media, and have taken a grassroots approach — speaking out to the public about the long-term affects of the proposed tax. In addition, REALTORS® have also gone to local governments to speak out about the implications of the proposed tax on local property taxes, referenda, and the appeal of assessments by those fighting to avoid additional taxes.

The grassroots approach has worked for now. The Governor’s Office has found other sources of revenue.

The Rhode Island Association of Realtors® remains ready and willing to advocate against the property tax proposal, should it return.

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