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NEW: Lawmaker Proposes Revision in Auto Valuation Process

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Representative Samuel Azzinaro has introduced legislation to amend the state’s auto tax statutes and specifically the method used to determine the presumptive value of a vehicle.

“When we eliminated the automatic $6,000 exemption on auto valuations as part of the last year’s budget, I guess we didn’t realize the problem we were creating, or the citizen outrage it would cause,” said Representative Azzinaro. “Citizens receiving their auto tax bills this year were rightfully shocked by how their bills skyrocketed. We need to bring some sanity to the process, because what is happening now is out of control.”

As part of the enacted state budget, the state did away with the $6,000 auto excise tax exemption that was uniformly administered by all cities and towns. Under that exemption, anyone owning an auto that was worth less than $6,000 did not have to pay excise tax on the vehicle; those with vehicles valued higher than $6,000 were taxed by their communities on the amount over that threshold.

With elimination of the $6,000 statewide exemption, cities and towns were allowed to lower the exemption to $500. As a result, an individual with a vehicle that was worth, for example, $5,000 last year paid no excise tax, while that same $5,000 vehicle owner may now face an excise tax bill on $4,500 worth of value of the car if the community has dropped the exemption to its lowest point of $500.

To further complicate things, vehicles were being assessed at their “clean retail value,” rather than on what they were actually worth, increasing many tax bills.

The Azzinaro legislation, 2012-H 7224, proposes to revise the valuation process by using the “Kelley Blue Book” value for a vehicle, which he said is a more realistic appraisal than those currently being used around the state.

In addition to adopting the Kelley values, vehicles would be taxed at 95 percent of their value when they turned six years old. The bill calls for the tax rate to decrease by 5 percent each subsequent year until the vehicle turned 15 years old, at which time it would be valued at 50 percent of the presumptive (Kelley) value.

The legislation also allows taxpayers who question the valuation and tax bill set by their community to file an appeal by presenting evidence from a licensed vehicle appraiser.

Other bills have been introduced in the House this year to revise the auto assessment process, including one that would rely on the valuation from the National Automobile Dealer’s Association. Representative Azzinaro said his legislation proposes using the Kelley Blue Book values because they are more realistic and their web site is more user-friendly.


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