When will Prince Edward County residents get their tax bills?
Published 2:07 am Friday, November 11, 2022
FARMVILLE – Where is my tax bill? That’s a question The Herald received multiple times this week from Prince Edward County residents, as the bills are two weeks late. Now we have answers on when those will arrive, along with some changes county supervisors approved on Thursday night.
First off, tax bills will be mailed out by Wednesday, Nov. 16. That’s according to Prince Edward County Administrator Doug Stanley. The information was sent to the printer on Monday, Nov. 7 and the bills are expected to be finished in just over a few more days. As for what caused the delay? Part of it was just the fact it took longer than expected to process all of the data. Another part of the delay was due to a late adjustment. As we reported back in October, the supervisors decided to increase the local personal property tax relief rate, in an attempt to ease the burden caused by inflation. Since that was approved on Tuesday, Oct. 25, county staff needed some extra time to calculate the tax bills.
“The Prince Edward County Commissioner of the Revenue requested and received an extension for the filing and delivery of the 2022 personal property and real estate books until November 5,” Stanley said.
What is a tax book?
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When Stanley says tax books, he’s referring to the annual document that includes all the tax rates, assessed values and taxes levied within the county. Once that is updated, the material is sent to the printer, who then produces the bills for every resident.
To be clear, no rules were broken here. Section 58.1-3912 of the Virginia Code only says that a city or county treasurer has to mail the tax bills “not later than 14 days prior to the due date”. Since taxes are due on Dec. 5 in Prince Edward County, there’s still more than a week before they’re required to be mailed.
Now that answers when the bills will go out, but there will be a couple more changes taking place, after Thursday night’s meeting.
Prince Edward County penalty date shifts
Stanley presented two issues to supervisors on Thursday. First, he put forward an emergency order. Under Prince Edward’s current code, tax payments are due on Dec. 5 each year. That includes real estate, personal property, machinery and tools, and vehicle license fee payments.
A 10% penalty fee is added to any payment received after that and after Jan. 1, 10% interest starts being added to unpaid tax bills.
The emergency order adjusts that. Under this order, which supervisors unanimously approved, county residents can pay up to Jan. 5, 2023 with no penalty or interest added.
“People that have struggled paying their bill, that’ll give them an extra 30 days,” Stanley told the board.
Also, the order extends the deadline for any active military members currently deployed. For any personal vehicles or homes where the deployed soldier resides, the due date will be delayed until 90 days after he or she returns from deployment.
Now as it stands, this is a one-time change. The emergency order is now in effect after being approved by supervisors, but to make it permanent, they would have to change the county code. That first requires a public hearing and then a vote by the supervisors. The public hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 13, during the 7 p.m. meeting.
Should we switch to two bills?
A permanent change in the due date is something residents have been pushing for. During the public comments section of the meeting, Prince Edward County resident Jeanne Hayden pointed out that December just isn’t a good time to get the tax bill.
“Most (people) really resent the fact we get these bills around the holidays,” Hayden said. “Lots of people would like to see Prince Edward County step into the next century.”
By that, she’s referring to how several other Virginia counties, including neighboring Cumberland, handle taxes. They break the payment in half, sending two bills. The first comes around June and the second, lower amount comes in October or November. The idea is to lower the burden near the end of the year, something Supervisor Jerry Townsend agreed with. “Christmas time is not a good time to be paying a lot of money,” he said. “Especially for people with a house full of children.”
However, switching to twice a year can create new problems, rather than just solving old ones. Stanley pointed out that in order to send out a June tax payment, that means the tax rate and budget would have to be adopted by April, regardless of what happens with the General Assembly. By comparison, this year Prince Edward didn’t adopt a budget until June. And adopting a budget early, without knowing what the Assembly will give or take from counties, doesn’t always work, Stanley said.
“You’re playing blind,” he said.
Also, twice a year payments mean more billing and that means hiring more staff, which also has to be budgeted for, Stanley said.
“You have to get your house in order (to switch),” Stanley said.
To learn more about the county’s personal property tax relief rate that changed last month, click here.