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Rhode Island Senate poised to issue a financial windfall to millionaire tax delinquents



This “get-out-of-debt free” card is the product of pro-business extremists such as Grafton HCapWilley IV

A bill up for consideration in the Rhode Island Senate on Wednesday will “enact a ten year statute of limitations on any assessment of tax due and payable or commencement of any collection action for any tax due and payable by the tax administrator for the sales and use tax, the estate tax, the personal income tax, and business corporation tax.”

In other words, if you don’t pay your taxes, wait ten years and you’ll be free and clear.

Senate Bill 0074, introduced by Senators Frank Lombardi (Democrat, District 26, Cranston), Michael McCaffrey (Democrat, District 29, Warwick), Walter Felag (Democrat, District 10, Tiverton, Warren), Frank Ciccone (Democrat, District 7, North Providence), and Frank Lombardo (Democrat, District 25, Johnston) will potentially erase tens of millions of dollars of debt, owed to the state of Rhode Island, for some of the biggest tax delinquents in the state. See here and here.

This “get-out-of-debt free” card is the product of pro-business extremists such as Grafton HCapWilley IV, who suggested the idea to Senate and House leaders at this year’s 2019 Rhode Island Small Business Economic Summit. While presenting a wish list of business legislation, such as the elimination of the estate tax, essentially a tax on dead millionaires, ‘Cap’ Willey IV included this statute of limitations idea, saying, “We ask you to pass a statute of limitations on tax collections of ten years.” ‘Cap’ Willey IV also proposed, “a reduction in the usurious 18 percent interest rate charges on overdue accounts that go back to the Carter years. An 18 percent interest rate is just not right. It should be prime plus a certain percentage.”

In the audience at that event were dozens of state representatives, including Speaker Nicholas Mattiello (Democrat, District 15, Cranston) and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (Democrat, District 4, Providence).

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Projo reporter Kathy Gregg reported the bill’s imminent passage in the Senate in a tweet last week:

Only one Senator, Samuel Bell (Democrat, District 5, Providence), expressed his opposition to the bill on Twitter, writing:

The backlog Bell is referring to is the long list of tax delinquents in our state who owe tens of millions of dollars, delinquents that the Rhode Island General Assembly seems keen to simply write off with this bill.

This might be one of those times where you might want to contact your Senator to express your opinion.

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Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.