Enterprise Zone

General Explanation

The Enterprise Zone Program for Portsmouth sunset on January 1, 2020.  All EZ Agreements in effect on that date will continue until termination.

An Enterprise Zone was a specific geographic area in which the state and the town target programs to directly and indirectly aid business expansion and job creation. Rhode Island Enterprise Zones were authorized by the state legislature. They were designated for five-year periods with the approval of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation. Enterprise Zone boundaries were set by U.S. census tracts. The map shows the portions of Portsmouth that were included in the Enterprise Zone. 
The Portsmouth Tax Stabilization Program was beneficial for construction of a new commercial building, expansion of an existing facility, renovation of an existing facility, or leasehold improvements in the Enterprise Zone.
Enterprise Zone map

Extension of EZ to December 2019

The State of RI has sunset the EZ Program by repeal of the law. However, the Town of Portsmouth was granted a five-year program extension in 2014.  By a Town Council Resolution (2014-12-8-B) of December 8, 2014 ) , the EZ Program for Portsmouth was extended until December 31, 2019.

How much was exempt?

The percentage of new added taxable assessment as a result of the new construction or expansion was exempt as follows:
In year 6 and thereafter, the new full value will be taxed at the normal rate for the Town.
Year % Exempt From Tax
1 100%
2 80%
3 60%
4 40%
5 20%

Although the Program is not longer in force, the following is provided for historical context.


Tax Stabilization will not relate to the value of land, but only to the value of building improvements, nor does it change or affect any pre-existing valuation. Tax Stabilization shall apply to all value not assessed as of the previous December 31, regardless of whether the building permit therefore was issued before or after the beginning of the year. New and expanding businesses must apply for designation with the Director of Business Development in the same year as the issuance of a building permit. Tax Assessment and collection practices will be the same as for any other property, except for a final calculation on the portion of exempt from taxes.

In no event shall total assessment on which the exemptions are based exceed the then current assessment on the improvements. Leasehold improvements will be classified as tangible personal property in order to qualify, as long as they are attached to the building.

The only requirements to benefit from this program are for the business to be located in the Enterprise Zone, be current on property tax payments, and be in conformance with the zoning ordinance. There are no thresholds for minimum size or value, or a minimum number of jobs to be created.


In the event that the applicant defaults on any quarterly tax or other payment due the Town on property receiving exemption here under for a period of more than 45 days (real estate, motor vehicle, or personal property), the stabilization shall cease immediately. Notice of delinquency shall be sent to property owner by registered mail not more than 30 days after delinquency.

Tax stabilization is transferable to new owners of eligible property, to the extent that only the remaining balance of eligible time a property may be in the tax stabilization program is transferable, or a pro rated portion of the original property thereof in the case of a conversion and transfer of property to condominium ownership, or other split ownership, provided that payment of property taxes due on said property in the Tax Stabilization program are not delinquent, and that the new and/or prior owner are not delinquent on payment of other taxes to the Town. All transfers of continuing participation must be registered with and approved by the Director of Business Development. The Director of Business Development will forward notice of eligible transfers of participation to the Tax Assessor.