When it comes to real estate property taxes, Virginia homeowners are said to enjoy lower tax rates than the national average, which is 1.08%. The state’s average effective property tax rate is just 0.80% and in Charlottesville, in particular, the average effective property tax rate is 0.87%.
Assessment of Property Taxes in Charlottesville, VA
Real estate taxes are assessed annually by the City Assessor’s Office, which appraises all real estate properties in Charlottesville to determine the values for tax purposes. Most assessments are based on exterior inspections, as residents are usually not around during the hours when the assessor comes to make the assessment. However, each property is monitored so that the assessments made are fair, equitable, and not higher than the market value. This assessment is effective January 1 and change of assessment notices are mailed around January 31.
Following the Code of Virginia, properties are assessed at 100% fair market value – the most probable monetary value of a property if it were for sale on the open market. When residential properties are appraised at fair market value, similar properties of the same type and class which have sold recently in the same neighborhood are compared, taking into consideration factors which may affect their value, such as location, condition, and size. When the market values in your neighborhood change, the assessed value changes as well. For instance, if homes within your area are being sold at prices above their assessed values, then the assessments will likely increase. On the other hand, if these are being sold below their assessed values, then the assessments will likely be lower.
Recent property sale prices around your neighborhood will determine your assessment. The City Assessor’s Office closely examines each sale and mails a questionnaire to buyers regarding details of the transaction to determine if the sale was an arm’s length transaction. On average, about 80% of real estate property sales in Charlottesville are considered arm’s length sales. The other 20% which are not considered arm’s length transactions are bank foreclosures, sales due to divorces, sales between family members, auctions, condemnations, and tenant buying from the owner. In case there are no recent sales within your area, the assessor will have to examine the sales from a comparable area which is similar in location, price range, and style of homes. However, there is a very low probability that this situation would happen, given the number of properties that are sold in Charlottesville every year.
How Property Tax Rates are Calculated
Property tax rates are calculated by local governments per $100 of assessed value. In Charlottesville, the tax rate is set every year, in spring, by the City Council and is due in equal installments on June 5th and December 5th of each year. The property tax rate in this city been lowered several times over the recent years, and is currently at $.95 per $100.
Here’s the formula for calculating your property tax:
Assessment divided by 100 x Tax Rate = Annual Property Tax
For example, the computation for the annual property tax of a home valued at $100,000 is as follows:
$100,000/100 = $1,000 x $.95 = $950
Given this, the semi-annual tax bill is calculated by dividing the annual property tax by 2:
$950/2 = $450
Appealing an Assessment
Once the assessments are mailed, property owners are given 30 days to appeal the assessment. To initiate this process, download the Assessment Appeal Application and submit the completed form along with supporting documents either by mail or in person at the City Assessor’s Office located at 102 5th Street NE.
After your appeal application has been received, the assessor who valued your property will meet with you to conduct a physical inspection and review your property’s assessed value. The assessor will then determine what change, if any, is appropriate and will inform you about the decision within 30 days by mail. If you agree with the assessor’s decision, there will be no further action needed.
If you disagree with the assessor’s decision, the next step is to request for a review of your property’s assessed value by the Board of Equalization (BOE), an independent panel of citizens who are appointed to mediate when the property owner does not agree with the assessor’s decision in the first part of the appeals process. BOE hearings will be scheduled within 30 days after the City Assessor’s Office receives a request from you to further review the appeal and after which the BOE shall inform you of their decision by mail within 30 days. At this point, if you disagree with the BOE’s decision regarding the assessed value of your property, you have the right to escalate your appeal to the Circuit Court.
Property Tax Deadlines and Payment Methods
As previously mentioned, real estate taxes are due in equal installments on June 5th and December 5th of each year. If the deadline falls on a weekend, this is extended to the following Monday. There are various ways you can pay your property taxes:
You may send your property tax payments via mailed to this address:
City of Charlottesville
P.O. Box 2854
Charlottesville, VA 22902-2854
At the City Hall
You may personally go to the City Hall and pay at the Customer Service Counter. The City Hall is located at 605 East Main Street, at the east end of the Downtown Mall. The office is open from Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on legal holidays.
Another way to pay your property tax is by calling this hotline: 1-866-660-5185. There is a convenience fee for all credit and debit card transactions for tax payments made through this line: a fixed rate of 2.5% is added to all credit card transactions and a flat fee of $2.25 is added to electronic check payments from a checking or savings account.
Online payment can be made through this link. Please note that there is a fixed rate of $0.30 + 2.50% added to all credit card transactions and a processing fee of $1.50 will be charged for all Electronic Check Payments (ACH).
Automated Payment Plan
You may also opt to pay your real estate property taxes by automatically deducting your payment from your bank account. This is the most convenient way to pay your property tax and you will never have to worry about missing the deadlines. You will need to download the authorization form, fill out the form, and send it to the Treasurer’s Office.
Penalties for Late Payments
Real estate property taxes that are not received or postmarked by the deadline are assessed on the first day after the deadline with a penalty of 10% of the tax due. Property taxes that remain unpaid on the first day of the month following the deadline accrue interest on a monthly basis at a rate of 10% per annum. If a penalty has been applied to your account and you would like to request this to be waived, you will need to first review the Late Payment Penalty Policy to make sure that you are eligible for a waiver. After which, you may write a letter, along with supporting documentation, addressed to the Treasurer.
For more information about property taxes in Charlottesville, Virginia, or if you have other concerns regarding this matter, you can click on this link or go to their website: www.charlottesville.org.