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Is Your Rhode Island Real Estate Claim Timely?

When a city or municipality assesses an unfairly high tax on your property, you may be unsure what to do next. Instead of ignoring the problem, it is important to act as soon as possible. In Rhode Island, a plaintiff must challenge tax assessment claims within the time specified under a statute of limitations. This term refers to a legally imposed time limit to file a claim. Recently, the Rhode Island Supreme Court determined whether the appropriate statute of limitations in a tax assessment challenge was three months or ten years, only one of which would allow the plaintiff’s claim to go forward.

The corporate plaintiff in the case, Newport and New Road, LLC (“Newport”) filed a petition in the Rhode Island Superior Court against the tax assessor of the City of East Providence. The petition alleged that the defendant conducted an illegal property-tax assessment in 2012 and an excessive tax assessment in 2013. The City argued that Newport’s claim fell beyond the required three-month statute of limitations. Conversely, Newport claimed it could sue within ten years of the defendant’s assessments based on a separate statute from the one that carried a three-month time limit. The Superior Court agreed with the City, holding that the three-month statute of limitations barred Newport from suit. On appeal, Newport argued that the lower court erred in applying the three-year statute of limitations. Instead, Newport asserted that the proper statute of limitations for its tax assessment claim is ten years, the time limit that generally applies to civil actions in Rhode Island. Additionally, Newport argued that the statute did not reference the three-month statute of limitations, meaning the court should have interpreted the “silent” statute as imposing the standard ten-year limit.

Based on its own statutory interpretation, the Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s decision in favor of the City. While the specific section of the statute at issue did not specify a time limit, it unambiguously referenced other sections that imposed three-month filing deadlines. The court explained that Newport’s interpretation would ignore the general requirement to interpret a statute in its entirety rather than reading each section in isolation. Additionally, the three-month statute of limitations reflected legislative intent to resolve tax assessment disputes as quickly as possible. Based on the entire statute and the clear language of the section at issue, the court found that Newport’s challenges to its tax assessments were untimely due to the three-month statute of limitations that applied. This case illustrates that people or businesses that believe they have received an unfair tax assessment should file their case as soon as possible. An experienced Rhode Island real estate and tax lawyer can help you understand the applicable statute of limitations and file your case far ahead of the time limit.

Have You Been Unfairly Taxed on Rhode Island Real Estate?

If you have received an unreasonable tax assessment on your Rhode Island property, it is important to act as soon as possible to avoid missing the applicable deadline to bring a claim. The experienced Rhode Island real estate attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo, LLP are here to assist you. Our attorneys understand the complex statutes of limitations that apply to various Rhode Island real estate and tax claims. We stay up-to-date on all changes to our state’s statutes and other legal developments that affect our client’s cases. If you have questions about a real estate or property tax issue, call our office at 401-300-4055 for a free initial consultation.

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