Tax Break for Homeowners?

By: Lisa Ferrari Email
By: Lisa Ferrari Email

January 10, 2008

There is some good news for Virginia homeowners: you could soon be eligible for a major tax break.

State lawmakers are considering an amendment that would allow local governments to give homeowners a rebate on their property taxes and many homeowners say its needed relief.

“The taxes on this house are outrageous,” said Charlottesville Homeowner Glenn Anderson.

With assessments on the rise, homeowners have been paying big property taxes.

“Unfortunately, the property tax in the last five years has gone up a huge amount. For a lot of people, it is a huge burden,” said Charlottesville Homeowner Monty Chowdhry-Morris.

It’s a burden homeowners would like to see some relief from.

“So, when you tell people state lawmakers want to pass a measure that would save them hundreds of dollars in real estate taxes, well they can't help but be excited. I think it is a wonderful thing,” said Morris.

If passed, here's how the amendment would work: Local governments would have the authority to rebate up to 20% of home real estate assessments. So, if your home is valued at $350,000 you might be able to subtract 20% or $70,000 from the assessed value and pay taxes just on $280,000. That's a savings of about $600.00.

“That's a huge difference. I think for a lot of people that would be a big help,” said Morris.

It may be a big help for homeowners, but for the city that generates much of its revenue from property taxes it could pose a problem.

“When I think about priorities, rather than give a tax break to someone living in a million dollar home, I am going to want to put more teachers in a classroom,” said Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris.

And, this amendment only benefits homeowners, not businesses, so some say local government would likely have to do some creative accounting or the businesses maybe forced to make up the difference.

That is something Norris doesn’t want to see happen. “If you are increasing taxes on businesses you run the risk of driving businesses out of your community.”

This tax break requires a change to the state constitution, and that means even if the Virginia General Assembly passes the measure; it's the voters who will have the final say in November.

And, another interesting note; the city of Charlottesville is already one of only two Virginia localities that have been granted special permission from the General Assembly to give property tax rebates to poor and middle class.

To find out if you might be eligible call City Hall.

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