Weekly Round-Up: Virginia Real Property Tax Assessment Procedure—Potential Pitfalls for the Unwary

Article X of the Constitution of Virginia requires all property in Virginia-real and personal, tangible and intangible-to be taxed at its fair market value unless the property is exempt from taxation as provided in the Constitution or by general law, Shane L. Smith, a Senior Associate at Williams Mullen, writes in this week's issue of the Bloomberg BNA Weekly State Tax Report.

The Constitution further requires that all taxes levied and collected be uniform upon the same class of subjects within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax, Smith explains.

Virginia's property tax assessment (and appeal) procedures are, however, comprehensive and not easily decipherable, due largely to the significant autonomy Virginia grants to its counties, cities, and towns in the development of their particular property tax schemes, Smith states.

It is important to keep in mind, when addressing real property assessment procedures, that differences among the localities' appeal procedures carry pitfalls for taxpayers who assume such procedures are uniform statewide, Smith writes.

For example, not every board of equalization or reviewing court must afford the assessments a presumption of correctness. In counties that decide to adopt a county manager plan of government, a taxpayer must simply prove that the property "is valued at more than its fair market value, or that the assessment is not uniform in its application, or that the assessment is otherwise invalid or illegal," Smith  states.

To date, only Arlington County has adopted the county manager plan of government-meaning taxpayers in Arlington County face a different (and significantly lower) hurdle to prevail in an assessment challenge than in any other locality in Virginia. Taxpayers in all other localities-at least at present-must rebut a presumption that their assessment is correct in order to prevail in an assessment challenge, and rebutting the presumption will, in almost all instances, require a showing of manifest error or total disregard of controlling evidence in the assessing officer's assessment methodology, Smith writes. 

A thorough understanding of assessment procedure-including state statutes (not all of which are in the Tax Section of the Virginia Code) and local ordinances-is therefore critical and will aid in identifying such manifest error or evidentiary disregard, Smith states.

Smith's comprehensive article on the real property tax assessment procedures in Virginia  can be read here.

In other developments…

Missouri Considering "Massive" Incentives for Boeing , by the Tax Foundation

Voiding of Illinois Sales Tax Regulation Leads to Prospective Uncertainty for Sourcing Sales , by McDermott Will & Emery

Illinois income tax nexus established by attributional nexus and sales tax registration, P.L. 86-272 protections exceeded , by PwC

Compiled by Priya D. Nair
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