Some Little Compton Taxpayers get a free ride for not paying their taxes. According to the data received from the Tax Collector’s Office, only select delinquent taxpayers are getting a free ride while others are paying some stiff penalties for their delinquencies.
Last December, Tax Collector Mary Jane Harrington was told to abort her practice of waiving penalties, a practice that has been going on since her election to public office in 2004. The years of waivers have cost the town over $160,000.
Little Compton does not have a town charter ordinance relating to *RI General Law 45-5-8.1
Waiver of interest on overdue quarterly tax payments. It certainly appears that state law has been violated by the tax collector and penalties should be subject to collection by the town, regardless of waivers that she has granted.
Linda and Albert Veri own two Little Compton properties and were delinquent from 2010-2016 ($45,044.86 principal and $16,185.22 penalties equaling $61,230.08) as of December 15, 2016 data. On January 23, 2017, they decided to pay their $45,069.19 delinquent principal. Great news for the town, however, Ms. Harrington waived all 7 years of penalties, over $16,000. In that same month that the Veri’s received a nice reward for not paying their taxes, many others were charged penalties, a total of $14,407.25 collected the month of January alone. One delinquent taxpayer paid $3,547.89 in principal for 2011-2013 taxes and paid an additional $2,451.21 in penalties. Another paid $3,995.14 for 2013 back taxes and paid an additional $3,004.86 in penalties.
Who gets a free ride and who has to pay penalties? That would be a great question to ask the tax collector. Perhaps during the May 23, 2017 Financial Town Meeting taxpayers will finally get an answer to that question, especially since the town will be asking all to pay a good amount more for FY2018 taxes, as well as asking for consideration to authorize the Town Council to transfer $310,000 out of several accounts to balance the FY2017 budget.
As of May 8, 2017, Little Compton is facing a total of $681,182.93 in principal and penalties.
*RI General Law 45-5-8.1 Waiver of interest on overdue quarterly tax payments:
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision in this chapter to the contrary, any city or town may, by ordinance duly enacted, authorize a waiver of interest on one quarter’s overdue property tax payment and allow the remaining balance of taxes owed to be paid on a quarterly basis if all of the following conditions are satisfied by the taxpayer:
(1) The property subject to the overdue payment is the residence of the taxpayer and has been for the five (5) years immediately preceding the tax payment which is overdue.
(2) The request for a waiver of interest is in writing, signed and dated by the taxpayer.
(3) The taxpayer has made timely payments of taxes to the city or town for the five (5) years immediately preceding the tax payment, which is overdue. The burden of proof of timely payments shall be upon the taxpayer.
(4) The bill for which the payment is overdue was issued less than two (2) years prior to the date of the request for a waiver of interest.
(b) In no event shall the waiver of interest on a tax bill exceed five hundred dollars ($500). Decisions of the tax collector shall be in writing and contain a notice to the city or town council. If the taxpayer receives an adverse decision from the tax collector, the taxpayer must pay the interest and may file a claim for reimbursement with the city or town council within ten (10) days of the decision.
(c) Any request for a waiver of taxes which meets criteria established by this section pursuant to a duly enacted ordinance shall be granted by the city or town.