Homestead Audit Called Off For Now

The East Providence City Council puts a moratorium on the Homestead Exemption audit because the letter to homeowners says that a federal income tax return can be a proof of residency.

The City Council called a temporary halt to the Homestead Exemption audit in East Providence on Tuesday night, Nov. 20.

The vote was 3-1 with one absence. The audit won't continue, it appears, until the letter going out to homeowners is stripped of language that says a federal income tax return can be used as proof of residency.

"Are we really asking for people to show us their federal tax returns?" said City Councilor William Conley. "Where is the law that says we can do that?"

The response from City Manager Peter Graczykowski and Finance Director Malcolm Moore was that a federal return is only one of the suggested ways to prove residency.

"People need two of the five" suggested proofs of residency on the letter, said Moore. Such as a RI driver's license and and vehicle registration.

The other proofs listed on the letter to homeowners are a RI voter registration, a Social Security statement/bank statement and the federal income tax return.

A utility bill could be used as well, said Graczykowski. A piece of mail to a person's home could be sufficient proof for the tax assessor. None of those are listed on the letter, though.

It is the federal income tax return that got Conley and Mayor Bruce Rogers all fired up Tuesday night.

"I am telling people not to bring their federal tax returns to the city," said Rogers.

In fact, he said, "Do not bring your tax returns."

Because the letter going out to homeowners still lists the income tax return as a proof of residency, though, the City Council decided to put a moratorium on the audit. It probably won't begin again until a new letter without that suggested proof of residency is approved by the City Council and then distributed.

The audit is an attempt "to make sure all homeowners who get a Homestead Exemption are entitled to it," said Graczykowski previously."We want to make sure the exemptions are going to the right people."

East Providence has more than 11,000 exemptions worth almost $7 million, he said. Based on audits done elsewhere in similar cities, the city could save up to $200,000.

The cost of finding out if everyone receiving an exemption is entitled to it will cost about $8,000, he said.

"This will certify everyone," Graczykowski said.

The original deadline for residents to fill out form and provide proof of residency was Nov. 30. It was moved to Dec. 15 when the mailing was messed up by the mailing company, said the city manager. Many East Providence residents still have not received the form.

Given the moratorium, you can probably ignore the letter when you receive it -- at least for a few more weeks.

b1 November 23, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Well Rags, as long as you observed the city manager acting like a professional, then I guess it doesn't matter the opinions of others. Why don't you run for office, or have you already? Interesting.
C the light November 24, 2012 at 04:18 AM
okay, did anyone read the letter, tax returns was an "option" what's the problem. There is way too much unnecessary baloney from citizens and city hall. Come on this is not rocket science, we all know what it's for just do it already and be done with it. Then get some real work done...please. This city is really starting to look pathetic.
Diane November 24, 2012 at 01:38 PM
C the light, I will explain the problem with this letter to you, that most of us understand. If you vote or own a vehicle, no problem, you give them either a copy of your voter card, registration or drivers license. For those who own property and do not vote or own a vehicle, then you would have to give them a copy of your federal tax return, social security statement, bank statement, besides a R.I. ID. If you did not vote or drive would you want to give this personal information? Besides the city has on file a copy of your voter card and they also send you a tax bill to your address for your vehicles. It's pretty pathetic that the people in city hall can not look up this information and save the city some money.
C the light November 26, 2012 at 03:41 AM
I agree in this day an age this shouldn't even be an issue if people did their job in the first place and how much money have we lost in past years because of the job not being done. I now understand your point, however, if I had to give my tax return all information ($$, etc) would be blocked out except the essential information that they are looking for (proof of residence). I am just sick of stupid issues that could be avoided with proper management, basically tired of paying people to do the job over an over again. I really need to get out of this city.
Diane November 27, 2012 at 06:51 PM
I agree it could be avoided with proper management, which is something this city is lacking big time. There are many of us who wish we could get out of this city.


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