Virginia vehicle owners shocked at high car tax bill; officials blame pandemic

Many vehicle owners in Virginia are getting sticker shock after seeing a much higher car tax bill this year.

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There was certainly no shortage of comments from discussions among car owners in Northern Virginia talking about the high tax bills on social media.

Keith Kruse, who owns a Ford Mustang in Alexandria, told FOX 5’s Ayesha Khan Tuesday that the net 2021 tax he would have to pay is more than $1,000, which he explained is 27 percent higher than the $860 he paid in 2020.

"It just seems to me it’s kind of a slap in the face from the city to increase the tax on us so much without consideration for myself and for others in the hospitality industry who are like me, still recovering from the economic impact of the pandemic," said Kruse.

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Diane Pollard, who lives in Prince William County, says that the assessment on her husband’s 2014 Ford F150 increased more than $1,500 from last year, but none of the other three vehicles they own had their values increased.

"That’s not the way this is supposed to work because it’s an aging vehicle, it’s supposed to depreciate," said Pollard. "We’ve already had so many things happen in a lot of different areas that make citizens question the integrity, transparency and the honesty of their government, this is just one more thing to add to the list. So why is this happening and how can they get away with this?"

Khan inquired with the City of Alexandria and was told, it’s due to supply and demand.

"COVID happened, we all changed how we all come to work, how we do work; there’s lockdowns, there are shutdowns, fewer cars are made making the value of cars go up because people still need a car and rental companies still need a car," explained Kendel Taylor, Director of Finance. "There is greater demand for vehicles than there is supply of vehicles so whenever that situation occurs, people will pay more and that drives the market value of that particular commodity up."

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"I get that they tried to justify because the rental market has gone up so much, but it’s not my fault, I’m not selling my car and I’m not going to buy another one so why am I having to pay a penalty for it?" asked Kruse.

In some cases, car owners noticed a $100 to $350 administrative fee on their bill, which is assessed if an owner’s car license plates are not registered in Virginia.

A FOX 5 viewer in Alexandria told Khan that this scenario happened to him even though his car has only ever been registered in Virginia, so when he called the city, he said they removed the charge and admitted that it was an error.

Taylor said the city encourages anyone who believes their car tax bill needs a review to contact them.