Software glitch causes thousands in East Providence to receive car tax delinquency notices


EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — About 8,000 car owners in East Providence received letters from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) this week notifying them they were behind on their car tax payments, but not all of them were actually delinquent.

Jeffrey Cute said he’s one of the thousands of residents who received the notice.

“It didn’t make sense when I opened it,” Cute said. “But someone let me know in person that that was something a lot of people received and it was an issue.”

The mailing notifying residents of a tax block came after an error in the city’s tax software, according to Patricia Resende, a spokesperson for the city.

She said the city has discussed the problem with the software company and will be making changes. The company has rerun the file and provided an amended list to the DMV.

Resende said the system mistakenly identified any resident with a balance who pays quarterly as “delinquent.”

The DMV will now issue letters to those 8,000 car owners to let them know if they received the letter in error, or if they actually have a city-issued tax block on their registration. It’s unclear how many of the letters were mistakes.

“I hope it’s something that whoever is in charge of this with the city learns from it,” Cute said. “I just hope that’s it’s something that leads to improvements one way or another.”

By state law, the DMV can’t renew the registration of any vehicle with outstanding excise tax payments, and only a municipality or fire district can clear a vehicle tax record so that its registration can be renewed.

Residents of East Providence should contact the city at (401) 435-7544 with questions or concerns.

Vehicle owners who paid the city following the erroneous mailing will not be issued refunds, according to Resende. She said they will now be ahead in their payments if they were not already behind.

The city said residents who don’t owe money will receive the following letter from the DMV:

Dear (Customer Name),

Recently, you were notified by the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles that you are unable to renew your vehicle registration due to unpaid excise taxes in the City of East Providence.

The Rhode Island DMV received this information in error from the City of East Providence. This notification is to inform you that you do not currently have an excise block and, if you have no other tax blocks in another municipality, you are clear to renew your vehicle registration(s). As a reminder, you can renew your registration online at

Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact the city of East Providence at (401)435-7544.

Thank you

Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles

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