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The Highest Taxed Communities for 2015 in RI

Monday, December 29, 2014

 

Tax rates are rising across the state, hitting those communities that can least afford them the hardest, according to new state data showing the local property tax rates for each city and town in the current fiscal year.

“With the fourth highest property taxes in the country as of 2013, Rhode Island cities and towns have had their work cut out for them. Unfortunately, while tax rates in a handful of communities have leveled off or dropped fractionally, in fact, little progress has been made overall to ease this unreasonable burden on property owners,” said Monique Chartier, spokeswoman for the Rhode Island Taxpayers group.

An estimated 29 communities had a net increase in their tax rates from last year. Five saw no overall change. And another five saw their overall rates go down. (That includes Scituate, which once had higher rates but only taxed 50 percent of the value of residential and commercial property. Scituate now taxes at 100 percent and dropped its rates. See below slides for the community-by-community breakdown.)

Highest taxed are poorest

Those with the highest tax rates tend to be poorer communities.

For the second year in a row, Central Falls took the top spot, taxing residential property at $27.26 per thousand, commercial at $29.48, and motor vehicles at $48.65. For Central Falls residents, the tax burden is a twofold problem: not only are rates among the highest in the state, but residents also are among those who can least afford those rates.

In order to better compare the tax burden from one community to another, GoLocalProv looked at what the taxes would be on a median-priced single family home and on a 2008 Honda Accord, one of the most popular selling cars. The total tax payment owed was then weighed against the median household income for each community to calculate the tax cost or affordability for its residents.

In Central Falls, total taxes owed for this year for a typical single family home and a 2008 Honda Accord would be $6,597. In a city where the median household income amounts to $29,268, the taxes owed would consume a little over a fifth—22.54 percent—of one’s annual earnings.

In Cranston, not only would the taxes on the same home and car be less—an estimated $5,553—but taxes as a share of median household income would be lower as well, at 9.45 percent. (Median household income in Cranston is $58,772.)

What explains the higher tax rates?

In reviewing the latest data, one progressive policy expert says the demographic pattern suggests that the higher tax rates may not be the product of poor local management.

“Can it be that the cities in this state are managed in uniformly poor fashion? Or could it be that state policy systematically favors the suburbs over the cities? If a community’s position on this ranking is readily predictable from factors that have nothing to do with the management of its government—population, poverty, health—doesn’t that tell us that factors beyond the city’s control are probably at fault? So what has the state done to examine and address those issues, beyond blaming mayors? Pretty much nothing, but hopefully that can change in the future,” said Tom Sgouros.

Chartier also laid some blame at the feet of state policy makers.

“Not all spending is determined on the local level, however. Some of it is handed down by the General Assembly in the form of minimum manning and other impactful mandates. We are encouraged that Speaker Mattiello is willing to consider spending cuts to balance the state budget. Similarly, we would encourage him to review and lift or mitigate mandates on cities and towns that compel higher property taxes,” Chartier said.

But she wasn’t ready to excuse local policymakers either, especially in the many local school districts where Chartier said the student population has “declined significantly.” “As school spending represents upwards of 75 percent of local budgets, it is puzzling, to say no worse, that property taxes continued to rise as student population dropped,” Chartier said.  

“It is difficult not to note in this context an important, related data point: Rhode Island teachers are now the highest paid in the country. It would appear, accordingly, that neither school committees nor city/town councils have adequately held the line on school spending. It is vital for the taxpayers, for the tax base, and for schools that they begin to move the spending curve down,” she added.

The dilemma in Providence

While demographic factors may be at work in other communities, the realities of urban geography are a driving force behind Providence’s struggle with high taxes, according to one city councilman.

“It’s a difficult situation to be in which would be the largest city in the smallest state,” said Councilman Luis Aponte, who is running to be the next president of the council. “Our ability to grow our tax base is hampered in many ways. Fewer people are bearing a larger burden year to year.”

The only way to alleviate the burden, Aponte suggested, is by substantial growth in the tax base through new developments in the city. That assumes, he added, that the new growth is not driven by tax-exempt colleges and hospitals. “That’s the only scenario under which I could see some tax relief,” Aponte said.

From 2014 to 2015, tax rates in Providence did not increase. Nor did they decrease. Aponte says residents should not expect any decline any time soon: the city’s current predicament, he says, was not caused in a year or two, so it will accordingly take more than a year or two to fix it.

“My hope is that there is interest outside the state of Rhode Island to develop in Providence,” Aponte said.

Raising a red flag over RhodeMap RI

Against the hope that tax relief is possible is the fear that a new statewide planning initiative, known as RhodeMap RI, may become yet another factor that drives up local property tax rates.

“It would be further devastation to our state’s struggling economy that RhodeMap RI would seek to raise property taxes on already over-taxed residents, even to the point of doing away with the protection of annual property tax caps in certain municipalities to fund the plan’s envisioned ‘growth centers,’” said Mike Stenhouse, the president and CEO of the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity.

When GoLocalProv pressed Stenhouse to provide more information about how RhodeMap RI might affect tax rates, he provided a copy of an online slideshow presentation from last November, in which removing the tax cap appeared to be one of the goals of the planning initiative. (See this link for the slideshow. The reference to the tax cap is on PDF page 15. The list of communities is on PDF page 10.)

“Right now, Middletown, Pawtucket, Central Falls, West Warwick, Smithfield, and Richmond are in the crosshairs, where local schemes have already been developed by the RhodeMap RI Growth Centers Committee,” Stenhouse added. 

 

Related Slideshow: The Highest Taxed Communities for 2015

How do the taxes in your community compare to other cities and towns in Rhode Island?

GoLocalProv has ranked communities from the least to the highest taxed on the basis of their tax rates, using newly released data from the state Division of Municipal Finance. The below slides list the tax rate per $1,000 in value for homes, commercial property, personal property, and motor vehicles for the 2015 fiscal year, which began last July and ends next June.

Along with the rates are examples of what taxes might cost a typical resident in each city or town. For residential taxes, this calculation is based on the current statewide median price for a single family home, which is $215,000. For communities with them, homestead exemptions are factored in using the latest available figures. For motor vehicles, the example used is a 2008 Honda Accord, valued at the maximum retail price of $15,150. The total cost of home and car taxes is then represented as a percentage of the median income for that community, offering a rough measure of how affordable taxes are for those residents as compared with the taxes in another city or town.

Data sources: the Rhode Island Division of Municipal Finance, the Rhode Island Association of Realtors, the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns, the National Automobile Dealers Association, and the U.S. Census Bureau.

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#39 New Shoreham

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $5.34

Commercial: $5.34

Personal Property: $5.34

Motor Vehicle: $9.75

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $1,148.10

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $147.71

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income:1.43%

Note: Real property is assessed at 80 percent of value. This is reflected in the community's ranking.

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#38 Little Compton

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $5.64

Commercial: $5.64

Personal Property: $11.28

Motor Vehicle: $13.90

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $1,212.60

For a 2008 Honda Accord:  $210.59

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 1.56%

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#37 Jamestown

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value 

Residential: $8.75

Commercial: $8.75

Personal Property: $8.75

Motor Vehicle: $14.42

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $1,881.25

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $218.46

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 2.46%

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#36 Charlestown

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value 

Residential: $9.90

Commercial: $9.90

Personal Property: $9.90

Motor Vehicle: $13.08

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $2,128.50

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $198.16

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 3.20%

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#35 Bristol

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value 

Residential: $13.06

Commercial: $13.06

Personal Property: $13.06

Motor Vehicle: $17.35

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $2,807.90

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $262.85

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 5.04%

Note: Bristol had a revaluation or statistical update effective December 31, 2013

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#34 Narragansett

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value 

Residential: $10.04

Commercial: $15.06

Personal Property: $15.06

Motor Vehicle: $16.46

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $2,158.60

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $249.37

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 3.58%

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#33 Westerly

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $10.64

Commercial: $10.64

Personal Property: $10.64

Motor Vehicle: $29.67

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $2,287.60

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $449.50

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 4.64%

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#32 Portsmouth

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $15.80

Commercial: $15.80

Personal Property: $15.80

Motor Vehicle: $22.50

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $3,397.00

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $340.88

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 5.10%

Note: Motor vehicles are assessed at 70 percent of value. This is reflected in the community's ranking. 

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#31 South Kingstown

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $15.48

Commercial: $15.48

Personal Property: $15.48

Motor Vehicle: $18.71

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $3,328.20

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $283.46

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 4.91%

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#30 Newport

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $12.06

Commercial:$16.72

Personal Property: $16.72

Motor Vehicle: $23.45

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $2,592.90

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $355.27

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 5.11%

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#29 Middletown

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential:$16.07

Commercial: $21.34

Personal Property: $16.07

Motor Vehicle: $16.05

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $3,455.05

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $243.16

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 5.23%

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#28 Exeter

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $14.63

Commercial: $14.63

Personal Property: $14.63

Motor Vehicle: $32.59

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $3,145.45

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $493.74

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 3.82%

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#27 Tiverton

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $19.30

Commercial: $19.30

Personal Property: $19.30

Motor Vehicle: $19.14

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $4,149.50

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $289.97

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 6.46%

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#26 North Kingstown

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $18.91

Commercial: $18.91

Personal Property: $18.91

Motor Vehicle: $22.04

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $4,065.65

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $333.91

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 5.49%

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#25 Richmond

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $20.94

Commercial: $20.94

Personal Property: $20.94

Motor Vehicle: $22.64

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $4,502.10

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $343.00

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 5.88%

Notes:

1. Motor vehicles are assessed at 80 percent of value. This is reflected in the community's ranking

2. Richmond had a revaluation or statistical update effective Dec. 31, 2013

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#24 Hopkinton

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $20.64

Commercial: $20.64

Personal Property: $20.64

Motor Vehicle: $21.18

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $4,437.60

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $320.88

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 7.13%

Note: Hopkinton had a revaluation or statistical update effective Dec. 31, 2013

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#23 Cumberland

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $17.08

Commercial: $17.08

Personal Property: $29.53

Motor Vehicle: $19.87

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $3,672.20

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $301.03

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 5.42%

Note: Cumberland had a revaluation or statistical update effective Dec. 31, 2013

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#22 Coventry

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $20.40

Commercial: $24.58

Personal Property: $20.40

Motor Vehicle: $18.75

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $4,386.00

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $284.06

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 7.12%

 Note: Coventry had a revaluation or statistical update effective Dec. 31, 2013

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#21 Warren

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $20.07

Commercial: $20.07

Personal Property: $20.07

Motor Vehicle:$26.00

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $4,315.05

For a 2008 Honda accord: $393.90

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 8.62%

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#20 East Greenwich

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $23.26

Commercial: $23.26

Personal Property: $23.26

Motor Vehicle: $22.88

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $5,000.90

For a 2008 Honda accord: $346.63

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 5.48%

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#19 Burrillville

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $18.88

Commercial: $18.88

Personal Property: $18.88

Motor Vehicle: $40.00

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $4,059.20

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $606.00

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 7.01%

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#18 Barrington

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $18.30

Commercial: $18.30

Personal Property: $18.30

Motor Vehicle: $42.00

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $3,934.50

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $636.30

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 4.43%

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#17 West Greenwich

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $22.55

Commercial: $22.55

Personal Property:$33.85

Motor Vehicle: $19.02

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $4,848.25

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $288.15

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 6.36%

Notes:

1. Does not include rate for vacant land which is $16.07

2. West Greenwich has a homestead exemption

3. West Greenwich had a revaluation or statistical update effective Dec. 31, 2013

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#16 Foster 

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $21.06

Commercial: $21.06

Personal Property: $28.96

Motor Vehicle: $36.95

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $4,527.90

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $559.79

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 6.26%

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#15 Scituate

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $18.98

Commercial: $21.94

Personal Property: $40.38

Motor Vehicle: $30.20

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $4,080.70

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $457.53

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 5.52%

Note: Motor vehicles are assessed at 95 percent of value. This is reflected in the community's ranking. 

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#14 North Smithfield

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $16.02

Commercial: $17.77

Personal Property: $42.80

Motor Vehicle: $37.62

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $3,444.30

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $569.94

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 5.21%

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#13 Glocester

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $21.77

Commercial: $24.74

Personal Property: $43.34

Motor Vehicle: $24.37

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $4,680.55

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $369.21

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 6.31%

Note:  Glocester had a revaluation or statistical update effective Dec. 31, 2013

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#12 Lincoln

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $23.57

Commercial: $26.94

Personal Property: $37.02

Motor Vehicle: $30.66

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $5,067.55

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $464.50

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 7.33%

Note: Lincoln Has a homestead exemption.

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#11 Warwick

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $20.06

Commercial: $30.09

Personal Property: $40.12

Motor Vehicle: $34.60

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $4,312.90

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $524.19

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 7.93%

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#10 West Warwick

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: 

  • For apartments with 6+ units: $36.28
  • For Two to Five Family buildings: $36.45
  • For Single family homes: $25.3

Commercial: $30.85

Personal Property: $40.13

Motor Vehicle: $28.47

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $5,458.85

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $431.32

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 11.46%

Note: For rankng purposes, an average of the three residential rates was used. 

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#9 Smithfield

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $17.13

Commercial: $17.13

Personal Property: $59.70

Motor Vehicle: $39.00

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $3,682.95

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $590.85

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 5.89%

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#8 Cranston

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $22.84

Commercial: $34.26

Personal Property: $34.26

Motor Vehicle: $42.44

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $4,910.60

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $642.97

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 9.45%

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#7 East Providence

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $22.95

Commercial: $25.40

Personal Property: $56.67

Motor Vehicle: $37.10

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $4,934.25

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $562.07

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income:11.09%

Notes:

1. Rates are for FY 2014

2. East Providence has homestead exemptions

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#6 Johnston

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $28.75

Commercial: $28.75

Personal Property: $59.22

Motor Vehicle: $41.46

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $6,181.25

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $628.12

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 11.99%

Note: Johnston has homestead exemptions

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#5 Pawtucket

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $23.06

Commercial: $30.88

Personal Property: $52.09

Motor Vehicle: $53.30

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $4,957.90

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $807.50

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 14.28%

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#4 Woonsocket

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $35.94

Commercial: $39.99

Personal Property: $46.58

Motor Vehicle: $46.58

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $7,727.10

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $705.69

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 21.99%

Note: Woonsocket has homestead exemptions

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#3 North Providence

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $27.94

Commercial: $34.68

Personal Property: $69.91

Motor Vehicle: $41.95

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $6,007.10

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $635.54

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 13.04%

Notes:

1. North Providence has homestead exemptions

2. North Providence had a revaluation or statistical update effective Dec. 31, 2013

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#2 Providence

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: 

  • For owner-occupied residential property: $19.25
  • For non-owner-occupied residential property: $33.75

Commercial: $36.75

Personal Property: $55.80

Motor Vehicle: $60.00

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $4,138.75

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $909.00

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 13.20%

Note: For ranking purposes, the average of two residential rates was used

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#1 Central Falls

FY 2015 Tax Rates Per $1,000 in Value

Residential: $27.26

Commercial: $39.48

Personal Property: $73.11

Motor Vehicle: $48.65

Tax Cost for Residents

Taxes for a Single Family Home Valued at $215,000: $5,860.90

For a 2008 Honda Accord: $737.05

Total Taxes as a % of Median Income: 22.54%

Note: Central Falls has homestead exemptions

 
 

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