Town cracks down on residents’ out-of-state plates

Town cracks down on residents’ out-of-state plates

Enforcement set to begin Jan. 1

NORTH SMITHFIELD – An effort by Councilors Paul Zwolenski and Claire O’Hara to ensure that all North Smithfield residents are paying their fair share of taxes to the town will lead to potential fines and punishment for drivers with out-of-state plates who have not complied with Rhode Island law.

Councilors first began looking at the issue in May with a focus on The Residences at Slatersville Mill. Zwolenski and O’Hara visited the complex and told other board members that 66 percent of vehicles there were registered in Rhode Island. The council voted 4-1 to have town administration address the issue, with Councilor Thomas McGee casting the only dissenting vote.

According to Town Administrator Gary Ezovski, the town has since sent letters to all of the larger housing complexes notifying building management that tenants’ vehicles should be registered in Rhode Island, as required by state law.

Ezovski said that to his knowledge, the effort has not yet garnered much by way of results.

Now, the town will extend its search for offenders, with enforcement by the North Smithfield Police Department to begin on Monday, Jan. 1.

“I expect our police patrols to be watching for continuous presence of out-of-state plates, and then using their normal judgment for action to issue citations where there appears to be an issue,” Ezovski said.

The administrator said he does not expect the effort to require additional police details.

State law on the issue dictates that vehicles parked or garaged overnight in Rhode Island for more than 30 days over the course of the year, which are owned and/or operated by a state resident, must register locally. If the vehicle is registered in another state, the owner must file an annual report with the administrator of the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles, and with the tax assessor of the city or town in which they reside, stating the reason for registering elsewhere.

“Those reports can be evaluated for validity of the basis for the registration,” Ezovski said. “A person who has a second home and in fact is now a resident of that state for example may be exempt from local tax responsibility if they are indeed no longer a Rhode Island resident while still owning Rhode Island property.”

Failure to comply with the law can result in fines of up to $500.

Ezovski noted that the town’s enforcement of the law has been championed by Zwolenski and O’Hara, and his office identified the existence of the applicable law as an aid to manage council goals.

“I don’t know if they have additional efforts in mind,” Ezovski said.

Zwolenski told The Breeze that he initially took interest in the issue when tax abatements came before the board. Abatements are expected funds that the town can’t collect in taxes due to issues such as out-of-state registrations. He said the issue has been prevalent at the town’s large housing complexes, where forms could be handed to new residents warning them that their cars should be registered in town, and that the town asked for such consideration in a letter earlier this year.

“We’re not asking much,” Zwolenski said. “There’s been no response.”

He said he has not received any feedback on the issue from residents. Of the potential $500 fine he said, “I think that’s a little bit much. We’re going to have a council vote and come up with a stratified level of fines.”

On Monday, O’Hara asked about the town’s progress, and asked if anything could be done about businesses operating in town but incorporated in Massachusetts. Ezovski noted that the town will work to enforce state law with a focus on the reporting requirement. He said Police Chief Steven Reynolds has been in contact with officials in Burrillville, where a similar effort took place.

“It will be in the hands of the North Smithfield Police Department,” Ezovski said.

Zwolenski said he’d like to see some objective, measurable reporting on the police department’s efforts, and that he plans to meet with Ezovski to devise a system.

“A lot of folks have moved in and they’re not paying their fair share,” he said.

Of the police department’s enforcement efforts, he told The Breeze he’s hopeful the town can simply educate people.

“They’re not going to put roadblocks up,” Zwolenski said. “It’s not going to be a police state.”


Really? Great way to encourage population and business growth! Please don't miss the sarcasm here.

Nice to see this being done, and done aggressively and without mercy s these Tax Evaders are CHEATS and causing the rest of us to, unfairly, pay more then we should.

More-so, it sure would be nice to see it finally done in Cumberland where there are an exorbitant number of Out-Of-State-Plates...especially from Vermont, followed by NH and FL.

And, among the worse offenders is a certain state rep whose family keeps a large number of vehicles registered in Vermont...and he (the State Rep) keeps almost all of his business' vehicles also registered there. However, he will say they all belong to a relative up there and the vehicles, that have been here for at least 5 or more years, are only here on loan!
You believe that I have a Bridge in Brooklyn for sale I'd like to discuss with you!

And, we do not even need aggressive police action on this...there are even better ways to catch them!

The North Smithfield, especially the Cumberland Tax Assessor only need to go into their computer system and, one by one, look at the address, lot #, etc. to see what on that site is being taxed. Obviously the home, etc.

Needless to say, and this IS NOT Rocket Scientist, if there are no vehicles at all being taxed...should that not be a BIG RED FLAG and a visit made to that address by the assessor, or an assistant to find out why no vehicles are registered?

In Cumberland there are 2-Computer Terminals in the hall way outside the Finance Director's Office...allowing for this kind of a search, and a broad range of search options!

One day I did a search by street, checking every street address in and around the upper Diamond Hill Reservoir!

I was blown away with the number of homes that were paying no taxes of any kind on vehicles...the worse being Burnt Swamp Road where an exceptionally large number of Vermont registered vehicles (Most High Ticket Makes & Models)in the driveway!


Here is a memo sent to me while I was in charge of Auditing, Compliance, and Training for the State Inspection Program wherein I had to cover this topic in class. The memo is from the former head of the "Enforcement Division of the RI-DMV.

Subject: Reference: Out of State Motor Vehicles

From: Joseph Monteiro <>

To: Tom Letourneau

Tom, first my apologies for not getting back to you sooner, but It been very hectic here.

The laws you are looking for are as follows:

31-1-18 Resident and Non resident

31-3-4 Proof of Payment of sales or Use tax

31-3-34 Notice of Change of Address

31-3-35 Notice of Change of Name

31-3-3.1a Notice to division of motor vehicles of vehicle lease agreement

31-7-1 Right to operate on foreign registration

Hope this helps you and again sorry it took so long, but I did Not forget.

Good Luck

Joe Monteiro
Enforcement Section RI DMV

Needless to say if all of the above State Laws were to read, and enforced, it is a rather non-debatable issue of vehicles owned by State Residents, used here in RI, kept on the owner’s property, and so on and so on…there is no misunderstanding here that the citizens doing this are breaking the law, out and out Tax Cheats and Evader and are in violation of every law on the books?

And that especially includes a 'Certain State Rep' from Cumberland and many, many, many members of his family.

My question then is?

What are we waiting for...more-so - WHY?

You can't be serious, REALLY. Your own article explains why nothing is being done about out of state plates. It a connected process man. The reason why nothing is being done about it is because too many politicians and people who are connected with " THE SYSTEM " are the ones doing it. You think these politicians want this stopped. It's like cutting of you nose to spite your face.

Now, I have a great idea that can stop this overnight and it will take failure out of the question. On your tax returns there must be a section that states how many weeks per year you have worked in RI ( this gets placed on your tax return forms ). So let's say you worked 49 weeks ( given 3 weeks vacation to VISIT your FL home ). Law states that in order to claim an out of state residence you must live there a minimum of 6 months. Well guess what, how can that be when you have worked in RI for 49 weeks. BAMMMMMMMM, done. Look back at how many years that person cheated the state out of taxes and force them to pay back taxes plus interest. DONE...........But no, this will never be done because too many politicians and people connected are doing it. So as they say in RI " Fugetaboutit ".

Very well put, couldn't have said it better. Same in my neighborhood, too many out of state plates. Perhaps taxes would be lower if everybody paid their fair share.

What about us people who are RETIRED and DO NOT WORK ? We STILL have to pay taxes ! So where do I fall into this 49 week formula ? Am I part of the "SYSTEM" ? or am I getting the PORK CHOP paying $4300.00 of taxes on my RV ????? Plus my other car taxes ?????????

I've noticed our General Assembly politicians have special car tags identifying them as Assembly members. I have also noticed they usually appear on high priced vehicles even though some members have lesser value vehicles.
It raises the question, are General Assembly personal vehicles exempt from the car personal property tax because of their status?
Care to venture a guess?

People who have been cheating the system are the only ones who do not approve of this.

You can only claim one residency, pick your state, but live in it. I didn't know you could claim an RV as a residency. If you can that's news to me........... If you can't then yup, you get PORK CHOP.

Bottom line her in RI, get rid of the frigin property taxes on vehicles. You pay taxes on you car when you buy it. So be done with taxes from that point on. BUT, we all know, in RI that will never happen because RI is a money pit. So FICCA, to be hoenest, we the honest people, we all get PORK CHOP........

Maybe you should reread what I wrote ! And also where did I write I was claiming my RV as a residence ?

Reminds me when you`d see RI plates at homes and apts in neighboring Mass towns. No insurance required in RI at that time (or titles for that matter on 1973 and older vehicles).

Some older residents who have children living out of state, that buy mom or dad a car, register it, in say, a cheaper southern state, and keep it in Woonsocket for everyday use. Meaning, the taxes aren't being paid for RI. As for insurance, that too is cheaper down south,so not being paid to RI.
Here's what the south does: Do not issue a RI drivers license UNLESS driver is attached to a car, FULLY registered and insured in RI !!! Goes hand in hand. RI should stop issuing just the driver's license as a stand alone thing! RI should require an attached vehicle to a vehicle, no license. Everyone is protected properly. Foolproof really. And easily checked in the system.

Yes vehicles with General Assembly plates pay excise tax.

I am not sure what the issue is Maine along with a few other states are NON-RESIDENTIAL so as an American citizen we have the right to register our vehicles there I have looked into and Maine does require you to get an inspection sticker in your state if they so require it. If you think about it Rhode charges you taxes to register your vehicle which is fine then you get billed quarterly for the use of the plates you already purchased it's ridiculously expensive maybe if Rhode island did the same thing Maine does we wouldn't have an issue instead Rhode island screws over the residents of the state so when a opportunity is found people will take advantage of it and no one can blame them