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Relation of payment of poll tax to voting.–Boards of registration entrusted with the function of preparing lists of eligible voters are assisted in this task by the receipt annually from tax assessors of lists compiled by the latter by house-to-house canvass and containing the names, age, addresses, and occupations of males aged 21 and over and liable to pay a poll tax and of females eligible to vote. The boards in completing their voting registers rely upon such lists; but any eligible voter whose name did not appear on the lists thus transmitted may be registered by applying in person to such boards. However, the registration boards exchange information with the tax assessors, and supply to the latter the names of all registered voters which did not appear on the voting lists submitted by the assessors. The assessors are thus apprized of persons liable to pay the poll tax whose names hitherto have been omitted from the tax lists (Rev. Stat. (1954), ch. 3, §§ 5-9, 35–39; ch. 5, $$ 60, 64; ch. 16, § 104; Laws 1959, ch. 204, $$ 19-20).


Upon whom levied.-On every male inḥabitant above the age of 20, whether a citizen or an alien (Gen. Laws Ann. (West, 1958), ch. 59, § 1).

Exemptions.-(1) Male inhabitants who are 65 years of age or over, or who, during the preceding calendar year, were recipients of old age assistance or of aid furnished by municipalities from funds appropriated by them for the relief, support, maintenance, and employment of the poor shall be assessed for, but shall be exempt, at their request, from the payment of a poll tax. Such request, when filed in any year, shall continue in effect with respect to poll taxes assessed in subsequent years, unless such inhabitant in writing shall otherwise direct. (2) Persons who by reason of age, infirmity, and poverty are in the judgment of the assessors unable to contribute fully toward public charges. In the event that a person so relieved of poll taxes dies leaving a net estate in excess of all his debts, said estate shall be charged with the amount of taxes from which he is so relieved with interest at 6 percent from the date when such taxes, except for such relief, would have been due. (3) Veterans of the Civil War, Spanish War, Philippine Insurrection and Chinese Relief Expedition shall be assessed for, but shall be exempt at their request from payment of a poll tax. (4) Members of the armed forces are unconditionally exempt during their services (Gen. Laws Ann. (West, 1958), ch. 59, 88 5 (17A, 17B, 18, 23), 5A).

Rate.-$2.00 (Gen. Laws Ann. (West, 1958), ch. 59, § 1).

Collection.—Poll taxes are assessed by local assessors on each person liable thereto in the town of which he is an inhabitant on January 1 in each year. Minors liable to taxation are assessed to and in the place of residence of the parents or guardians. If a person liable to a poll tax, who is in a town on January 1, refuses to state his legal residence, he shall be deemed a legal inhabitant thereof. If he designates another town as his legal residence, the assessors of the latter town are notified and thereupon complete the assessment.

Bills for poll taxes are distributed not later than October 1 of the year in which they are assessed, and are dated January 1 of the year to which the tax relates. Poll taxes are due and payable at the expiration of 30 days from the date upon which the bill was distributed. Remedies available to the local collectors to enforce collection include the seizure and sale of real and personal property sufficient to pay the taxes including the fees chargeable upon delinquency; or, in the event that the debtor has not tangible assets, imprisonment in jail for not more than seven days. On poll taxes unpaid when due, interest shall be paid at the rate of 4 percent per annum, computed from the date when such taxes become due. The receipts including interest are paid over to the city or town treasurer (Gen. Laws Ann. (West, 1958), ch. 59, $$ 9–10, 57; ch. 60, 88 2–5, 29, 35; (Supp. 1959), ch. 60, § 15A).

Relation of payment of poll tax to voting.As an aid in determining the residents of cities and towns who are entitled to vote, town and city registrars, by a house-to-house canvass, compile annually in January and February lists containing the name, age, occupation, citizenship, and residence on January 1, in the preceding and current year of every person, 20 years of age and older, residing in their respective cities and towns. On or before April 15 in each year, they transmit to the assessors from the lists thus compiled the names of all male persons, 20 years of age and older; and thereafter they furnish promptly to the assessors notice of any subsequent addition to or correction of their lists insofar as such changes relate to male persons aged 20 or over.

The registrars compile their annual registers of qualified voters by transferring thereto from the aforementioned lists of residents the names of all persons whom they can identify as having been included in the voting lists employed in the election held during the previous year. Persons omitted from registration lists thus prepared must appear in person and petition the registrars to correct the omission, and, if necessary, prove to the satisfaction of the registrars that the applicants are qualified and entitled to be registered. A male applicant may offer, as proof of his residence, a tax bill or notice from the assessor showing that he was assessed as a resident of his city or town. Tax assessors are apprized of all changes made in correcting the registration lists (Ann. Laws (1953), ch. 51, $85-6, 8–9, 11, 34–35, 37–39, 42-43; (Supp. 1955), ch. 51, 88 1, 4, 7; Gen. Laws Ann. (West, 1958), ch. 51, 881–6, 8-9, 11, 34–35, 37–39, 42-43; (Supp. 1959), ch. 51, $ 7).


Upon whom levied.On every inhabitant of the state, from 21 to 70 years of age, whether a citizen of the United States or an alien. A husband shall be liable for the payment of his wife's poll tax if, when it was assessed, they were living together as man and wife (Rev. Stat. Ann. (1955), ch. 72, 88 1, 5).

Exemptions.—Paupers, insane persons, the widow of any veteran who served in the armed forces in wars which the United States was engaged, the widow of any citizen who served in the armed forces of an ally, veterans of any war in which the United States has been engaged, and veterans of any ally, provided such veterans record with the selectmen or assessors of the town in which they live their pension certificates or their certificates of honorable discharge. The term “veteran" includes members of any woman's auxiliary service which was subject to and under military law (Rev. Stat. Ann. (1955), ch. 72, $$ 1-4; (Supp. 1957), ch. 72, § 1-a).

Rate.-$2.00 (Rev. Stat. Ann. (1955), ch. 72, § 1).

Collection.-Poll taxes are assessed before June 1, unless the time is extended, by town selectmen or city assessors and are payable to the collector on demand and without previous notice. Interest at 6 percent is charged on all taxes not paid on or before December 1 after assessment. The proceeds of such taxes are retained by the respective towns, cities, or counties. Remedies for collection include the seizure and sale of personal property sufficient to pay said taxes, or, if no personal property can be found, the arrest and commitment of the delinquent taxpayer to the county jail or house of correction. When any person is so committed to the county jail or house of correction where there is a workshop connected, he shall be credited for his labor therein at the rate of $1.50 per day, to be applied on the amount of his tax and costs of commitment. He shall be required to pay the jailor of the institution board at the rate of $2.50 per week, the same to be earned in the employ of said institution. Suit may also be instituted against a delinquent taxpayer for the amount of any taxes owed; and wages may be attached for payment (Rev. Stat. Ann. (1955), ch. 54, 8 6; ch. 73, 81; ch. 74, $1; ch. 76, $$ 2–5, 13; ch. 80, $$ 1-2, 8-11, 13–15, 50; (Supp. 1957), ch. 76, § 12; ch. 80, § 12).

Payment a prerequisite.—Every applicant for a permit to register a motor vehicle or for a hunting, fishing, or trapping license must first submit an affidavit that he has paid his poll tax for the preceding year or was relieved of payment by exemption or abatement; but the permit or license may be issued if the selectmen or assessors certify that the same should be granted notwithstanding failure to pay said tax.

The tax collector, after making demand of a delinquent by a registered letter and receiving no payment within 14 days thereafter, shall identify the delinquent taxpayer on a form provided by the commissioner of motor vehicles or the director of the fish and game department; and upon receipt thereof the commissioner or the director shall revoke the registration or the license of the delinquent taxpayer and refuse to restore the same until the delinquent tax has been paid (Rev. Stat. Ann. (1955), ch. 80, § 3; ch. 214, $$ 10, 12; (Supp. 1957), ch. 214, § 11; ch. 266, $$ 4-8).

Relation of payment of poll tax to voting.A person excused from paying taxes at his own request is disqualified from voting; but he may become qualified as a voter by tendering payment, of all taxes assessed against him during the year prior to his offer to vote, to the moderator, collector of taxes, or to one of the selectmen of the town in which he lives and has his home; and, at the time he offers to vote, present evidence of such tender (Rev. Stat. Ann. (1955), ch. 54, 88 1, 4–5; Const., Art. 28).


By Laws 1952 ch. 2898 the Legislature repealed Laws 1951 ch. 2809 whereby à proposal was submitted to the voters to annul Amendment 7, 82 of the Rhode Island Constitution and was approved by the voters at a special election held June 28, 1951. By the terms of Amendment 7, § 2 towns and cities annually are to assess on qualified, registered voters resident therein a tax of $1 for the support of schools. However, on August 2, 1951, the Rhode Island Tax Administrator, in a letter to Commerce Clearing House, Inc., stated that the poll tax would not be assessed after 1951. Whether this tax in fact is being collected as the result of the above mentioned repeal cannot be determined with certainty at this time.


l'pon whom levied.--Upon all inhabitants of the state, citizens and aliens, over 21 and under 70 years of age.

A husband living with or supporting his wife shall be held liable for the payment of a poll tax and an old age assistance tax assessed against his wife. A wife who is supporting her husband shall be held liable for said taxes assessed against her husband (Stat. Ann. (1959), Tit. 32, 88 3601, 5011).

Rate:-$1.00 plus an additional levy of $5.00 for old age assistance (Stat. Ann. (1959), Tit. 32, 88 3601, 5012).

(2) Incorporated villages are empowered, by vote, to levy additional poll taxes of their own (Stat. Ann. (1959), Tit. 24, $ 1309).

Exemptions.—(1) Veterans of the Civil War, Spanish War, Philippine Insurrection, Boxer Rebellion, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, or Federal Emergency Service and their wives and widows, and the wives and widows of members who died in such service, if the veteran is receiving disability compensation and if application for such exemption is made on or before May 1 of each year and a Veterans Administration certificate is offered. Receipt of retirement pay defeats the exemption ; (2) members of state militia or of fire companies, if the town wherein they reside so votes; (3) persons actually poor ; (4) persons receiving old age assistance; (5) persons serving in the armed forces during their period of service (Stat. Ann. (1959), Tit. 32, § 3801).

Collection.-Poll taxes and old age assistance taxes are collected locally in the same manner as other state and local property taxes. Receipts from the poll tax are retained by the town treasurers : but 90 percent of the proceeds of the old age assistance tax is remitted to the state. Towns and their municipalities, by vote, may fix dates of payments, and may allow a discount, up to 4 percent, on payments made in advance. Similarly, by vote, a town may collect interest at the rate of 1/2 percent per month on poll taxes that are delinquent as of December 1. Remedies to enforce collection include the following: (1) distraint and sale of personal property, (2) arrest and commitment to jail, until the costs and taxes are paid, of a delinquent taxpayer who has no personalty available for seizure and sale, (3) suit in court for delinquent taxes, with attachment of assets in the hands of the delinquent taxpayer's debtors or of salary exceeding $10.00 in the hands of his employer. If wages in excess of $10.00 are attached, only $2.00 per week shall be withheld therefrom to be applied toward payment of the delinquent taxes (Stat. Ann. (1959), Tit. 32, $$ 4004, 4082, 4111, 4152–4153, 4646, 4731, 4734, 4771-4774, 4791-4793, 5011, 5023, 5071-5078, 50915093, 5136-5141, 5161-5164, 5191-5194, 5221-5227).

Payment a prerequisite.--(1) The commissioner of motor vehicles, on written notice from the collector of taxes of any municipality, including school districts, shall suspend, for the unexpired term of the license, the operator's license of any person who fails to pay all taxes for previous years, excepting property taxes, for which he is liable.

(2) Payment of poll and old age assistance taxes, unless a person is otherwise exempt, is a prerequisite to voting in town elections. Payments must be made to January 1 cedin the town meeting. A person who is qualified to vote in a town meeting shall be qualified to vote in all other municipal meetings.

The collector of town, town school district, or incorporated village taxes, annually on January 15, shall make a list of taxpayers whose poll taxes are unpaid and deliver same to the clerk to be used by the board of civil authority at an annual or special meeting to determine who are not legal voters in such meetings (Stat. Ann. (1959), Tit. 17, § 207; Tit. 23, $ 604; Tit. 24, $ 701 ; Tit. 32, $ 5161).

Relation of payment of poll tax to voting.--See subsection 2 of the preceding section.



(By Mollie Z. Margolin, legislative attorney, American Law Division, Library

of Congress)


Page 994 995 996

Table 1.-Residence requirements.
Table II.-Other requirements.
Table III.- Persons disqualified from voting
State legislation:

A laska.
New Hampshire
New Jersey.
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island.
South Carolina.
South Dakota.
West Virginia.


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TABLE 1.Residence requirements

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