Virginians could see higher personal property taxes from rising vehicle values

Get ready for a higher personal property tax bill in Virginia this year due to rising used vehicle values.

Loudoun County revenue commissioner Robert Wertz Jr. is advising county residents who own cars that their personal property taxes this season might be higher, owing to the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the automobile industry.

Typically, vehicle values for tax assessment purposes gradually decline as the vehicle ages. That trend held until early 2020, when all major vehicle valuation services tracked surging market values between January 2020 and January 2021.

That summer saw prices increase over 10% across the U.S. used car market — a hike Wertz attributed to a number of mid-pandemic factors, including the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates to near 0%, the closing of auto manufacturing plants and rental firms with large vehicle fleets choosing not to replace their inventory.

The resulting shortage of new and pre-owned cars sparked an increase in their assessed value, sometimes on the order of thousands of dollars, varying by model and make.

In 2020, for example, a 2020 Ford F150 Raptor EcoBoost was assessed at $50,571 in January. A year later, that same vehicle was assessed at $58,850 — an increase of over $8,000.

Taxpayers who believe their car was worth less than its assessed value on Jan. 1 of this year, due to extensive use, damage or otherwise, can seek a reassessment from the Loudoun County government.

“A vehicle owner can request a review of the assessment if a vehicle is not in average condition as of January 1 of the tax year being appealed, because of unusually high mileage, extensive unrepaired body damage or serious mechanical defects,” Wertz said. “This does not include normal wear and tear.”

Personal property tax bills are due in Loudoun County on May 5.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital reporter and editor in June 2018. He is a writer and photojournalist focusing on politics, political activism and national affairs, with recent multimedia contributions to Reuters, MSNBC and PBS.

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