11 August 2015

Unlike the federal and state authorities, Virginia Beach does not have an income tax. This doesn't mean Virginia Beach doesn't collect taxes, of course. Like any government the city of Virginia Beach needs revenue to provide services such as police and fire protection, snow removal, trash collection, etc.

Looking at the chart of revenue streams below you can see Virginia Beach has quite a few sources of income. The two I am going to discuss in this post are the two that can be itemized on Schedule A of the federal individual income tax return; real estate taxes and personal property taxes. Together these two taxes account for nearly 36% of the revenue for the city of Virginia Beach.

tax prep virginia beach revenues

It is not uncommon for people to confuse real estate taxes with personal property taxes. Most of us consider our home to be personal property - and it is - but for tax purposes real estate is taxed differently than other types of personal property. Therefore we have real estate taxes on real estate and personal property taxes on taxable property other than real estate.

Most of the local governments like to describe the tax rates for real estate and personal property in terms of dollars/$100, and Virginia Beach is no exception (i.e. the personal property tax rate on cars is listed as $4/$100). I am going to convert these rates to a percentage because I find that easier to work with. Just realize that makes the rates I am posting unofficial.

Virginia Beach taxes personal property at the following rates:

 Type of Personal Property Annual Tax Based on Assessed Value 
Cars, trucks, trailers (work), motorcycles, and aircraft  4%
Privately owned recreational watercraft (boats)  0.000001%
All other boats  1.5%
RVs, campers, horse trailers 1.5%
Vehicles for elderly or disabled 3%
Vehicles for disabled veterans 1.5%
Mobile Homes 0.93%

To qualify for the reduced rate on vehicles for the elderly and disabled the Virginia Beach resident must be age 65 or over by December 31 of the previous year OR permanently and totally disabled AND combined gross annual income (including social security) may not exceed $29,500. The reduced rate is only applicable to one vehicle. Additional details here.

Veterans who are permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected event can qualify for a reduced personal property tax rate on one vehicle. Additional details here.

Elderly and/or disabled residents of Virginia Beach can get an exemption from the mobile home tax if over 65 by December 31 of the previous year OR permanently disabled AND gross household income is $64,675 or less. More details here.

The 0.000001% tax on recreational boats is a placeholder. There is essentially no tax charged on recreational boats at this time, but if the city decides to collect such a tax in the future they don't have to change the law - they just have to change the rate.

Military personnel stationed in Virginia Beach can obtain an exemption from personal property taxes by mailing a copy of a current LES to the Virginia Beach Tax Assessor's office.

You can appeal the assessed value of your personal property if you believe the tax assessor's valuation is too high. Details can be found here.

Virginia Beach Real Estate Taxes

Location in Virginia Beach  Tax Rate on 100% of Assessed Value 
General  0.99%
Sandbridge  1.05%
Central Business District South  1.44%
Old Donation Creek 1.174%
Bayville Creek 1.353%
Shadowlawn 1.1494%
Chesopeian Colony 1.2813%
Harbour Point 1.069%
Gills Cove 1.053%
Hurds Cove 1.428%

The named areas are known as Special Service Districts (SSDs). The city is charging the waterfront homeowners in the SSDs a higher real estate tax rate to pay for dredging operations to maintain beaches and navigable water channels.

Elderly and/or disabled residents may qualify for an exemption for some or all of their real estate tax if they are over 65 OR permanently and totally disabled AND their household income is not more than $50,668 (disabled residents get a $10,000 income exclusion allowance). Additionally, you can't have more than $350,000 in assets. You must reside in the Virginia Beach home to get the exemption for the real estate taxes (second/vacation homes do not qualify). Additional details here.

There are also real estate tax breaks for energy efficient buildings as well as buildings listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register. Find additional details here.

If you itemize deductions on your federal income tax return you can deduct your real estate and personal property taxes (unless you are paying AMT).  This effectively removes them from your Virginia state income tax return as well. It turns out to be a substantial deduction for most people. For example, a Virginia Beach home valued at $300,000 would generate real estate taxes of $2,970. A taxpayer in the 25% top marginal rate for federal taxes (and 5.75% for Virginia) would knock $913 off his/her combined federal and state income tax bill for the year by itemizing that $2,970 as a deduction on Schedule A. Paying $913 less (or getting $913 more refunded) is pretty good money for filing your taxes properly. See me if you have questions.