Prince William County taxpayers shocked by high personal property tax bill

People in one northern Virginia county are doing a double take when it comes to their personal property tax bill.

Diane Pollard of Prince William County told FOX 5's Ayesha Khan Tuesday, that her tax bill is significantly higher than it was last year.

Pollard said that last year, the assessed value on her 2014 pick-up truck went up by $1,500 but this year, it went up substantially more and was the only vehicle affected.

She also noted that her 19-year-old motorcycle that was valued at $200 last year, went up to $4,292.

"But why the motorcycle? Why the pick-up truck?" Pollard remarked.

Pollard also said that her neighbor's 22-year-old pick-up truck went from an assessed value of $1,000 last year, to $9,100 this year.

"I really don't see the logic in how they're doing this and why they are using COVID still in 2022 as justification for this, it's not right something needs to be done," Pollard continued.

Khan checked with several finance officials in multiple northern Virginia counties and was told the rampant inflation is driving the price of used vehicles to even higher levels. Tax assessors are required by law to assign a fair market value for vehicle assessments using a recognized pricing guide. Most localities use the JD Power Used Car Guide for the Eastern Region.

A consumer who purchases a vehicle, expects it to depreciate as it gets used, and, therefore, to decrease in value. But the law requires a different valuation method, which in 2022, resulted in an increase in vehicle tax assessments.

Some other factors include pandemic spending, extremely low interest rates for far too long and supply chain issues like computer chip shortages.

"How long is this going to go on for?" asked Pollard. "How long will they use COVID as an excuse to charge hundreds of percent of increases in our taxes? When does it stop?

"This is based on actions of buyers and sellers in the market," explained Loudoun County revenue commissioner, Robert Wertz.

"I don't think it's being blamed on COVID as a whole. I think it's generally a supply chain issue and when the government meddles in the free market it messes up the economy and that's what's happened when we decide which businesses can be open which businesses can be closed and how goods come and go from the country."

Pollard said she is so frustrated that she and her husband have been calling Governor Glenn Younking's office but have not received a response.

Khan contacted the governor's office and was told that in Virginia, personal property taxes are managed locality by locality, not at the state level.

Khan also reached out to the chief financial officer for Prince William County and was told that some of the residents who receive the high personal property tax bill should contact the Tax Administration Office as soon as possible.

Khan also checked in with the Fairfax County Department of Tax Administration and was told that earlier this year, the Board of Supervisors approved a15 percent tax relief for personal property taxes on cars, trucks and other vehicles. The relief is provided by assessing vehicles at 85 percent of their fair market value rather than the normal 100 percent.

Assistant Director of the revenue division at the Alexandria Department of Finance Kevin Greenlief, said in a statement to Khan:

"We are not raising Personal Property taxes. We're just following the market as required by Virginia law. Beyond this however, our Council adopted a 78.8% Assessment Ratio this year on all vehicles, which means we are lowing the value that we'd otherwise be taxing by 21.2%. As noted in the recent News Release issued by the City, "owners could still see an increase on their specific vehicles compared with last year, as the change in market values varies widely by vehicle model and year. City Council also prioritized the application of State Car Tax subsidies to lower value vehicles. As a result of Council's action, this eliminated the local tax on almost 32,000 vehicles this year."