The bill would extend the Federal Offset Program to local governments. The program currently helps 42 states and Washington, D.C. to collect funds from delinquent taxpayers by reducing — or “offsetting” — their federal tax refund.
The bill, if passed, would be a triumph for Arlington Treasurer Frank O’Leary, who has advocated for such a tax-collecting tool on the local level.
“This is a win-win program for all levels of government and those who regularly pay their taxes,” O’Leary said in a press release. ”Passage of this legislation could mean hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue for local governments without increasing the tax burden on those who faithfully pay their fair share of taxes.”
“This bill offers a unique opportunity not just to provide needed, owed funds, at no cost to the federal government, it also protects honest taxpayers from an increase in local property taxes,” Moran said. “The federal government has done this successfully with states and we should provide the same partnership to local governments looking for relief.”
The federal government will collect a $25 fee from localities for each offset request. In Fiscal Year 2010, the Federal Offset Program collected more than $400 million in delinquent taxes to the states enrolled, Moran’s office said.
New Laws, Sales Tax Hike Takes Effect in Va. — Today, July 1, a number of new laws take effect in Virginia. Among them: a new law cracking down on texting and driving, the decriminalization of unmarried cohabitation, and an increase in the sales tax in Northern Virginia from 5 to 6 percent. [WTOP]
NSF Buildings to Be Sold, Redeveloped — Changes may be on the way for the two office buildings in Ballston being vacated by the National Science Foundation in 2017. One of the building is being offered for sale, while the other is being considered for a conversion to apartments or a hotel, according to the Washington Business Journal.
Challenge to Va. Gay Marriage Law Considered — The law barring same-sex marriage in Virginia may face legal challenges in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Defense of Marriage Act, according to several local elected officials. [Sun Gazette]
Wayne Street Apartments to be Renovated — The Wayne Street Apartments on 2nd Street S. in Penrose have been acquired by developer Penzance. The company plans to renovate the aging complex, raise rents and incorporate the complex into the Myerton community apartment across the street. [Globe St.]
Flickr pool photo by Eschweik
As the Sun Gazette reports, the higher rate is due to a 1 percent increase in the state sales tax — a tax hike that’s earmarked for transportation projects. In all, half of the 10 percent tax will go to the state, while the other half will go the Arlington County.
Arlington’s restaurant tax revenue includes 4 percent for the county meals tax and 1 percent for the county’s share of the sales tax.
While a 1 percent tax hike is relatively tiny, there may be a psychological impact from the tax line on your check hitting the double digit mark. Will you be less likely to go out to eat once the total tax on meals hits 10 percent?
The auction will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, June 28, in Room 109 of the county office building at 2100 Clarendon Blvd.
The approximate location, size and value of the properties are:
- 3600 block of S. Four Mile Run Drive near Shirlington (0.061 acres, assessed at $233,300)
- 3000 block of 17th Street S. in Nauck (3,750 square feet, assessed at $144,400)
- N. Cameron Street in Hall’s Hill (7,994 square feet, assessed at $418,200)
- N. Colonial Terrace in North Rosslyn (0.1133 acres, assessed at $370,100)
- S. Nelson Street in Douglas Park (1,972 square feet, assessed at $8,900)
From an Arlington County Treasurer’s Office press release:
Properties qualify for the judicial sale process once they are delinquent for 2 years or more following December 31. The Treasurer hopes to recover the delinquent taxes against the five properties that will be offered for sale on that day. In aggregate, the five properties owe taxes, penalties, interest and fees totaling more than $130,000.
The Office of the Treasurer has worked diligently to collect delinquent taxes throughout the county. The Treasurer’s Office has an annual collection rate of more than 99.8% on real estate taxes, perhaps the highest in the State. “While we are extremely proud of our collection rate,” said County Treasurer Frank O’Leary, “sometimes, taxes are not paid and the owners of a parcel or their heirs cannot be located. In these cases, the judicial sale process is the only way for the County to recover the taxes. We are looking forward to new owners putting these properties to productive economic or residential use, which will benefit all of Arlington.”
The Treasurer coordinates the tax sale process with the law firm of Taxing Authority Consulting Services, PC, whose fee is paid by the delinquent taxpayer or from the proceeds of sale.
“This is a rare opportunity for people to participate in a real property auction in Arlington,” O’Leary said, “We encourage interested parties to join us on June 28th, either in-person or online. It should be an interesting, and perhaps even exciting, event.”
For additional information about the terms and conditions of sale, you can visit: http://taxsales.taxva.com. To participate in the auction online, please visit: http://www.rasmus.com/auction_detail.php?id=204700.
The Board discussed the matter in a closed session before unanimously approving it. According to County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac, it is standard procedure for the Board to discuss a grant behind closed doors. The grant agreement will be made public once the county attorney finalizes it.
County Manager Barbara Donnellan said the grant will help bring the theater current with real estate taxes owed to the county. Funding for the grant was provided from budget savings identified at the end of Fiscal Year 2012.
The Arlington County Department of Management and Finance indicates the grant includes around $85,000 for past due real estate and business tangible taxes, $99,000 for the next two payments of real estate taxes and around $30,000 for the next business tangible tax payment. The remaining $35,000 will either help fund a financial consultant study or go to future tax payments.
Signature Theatre has sole access rights and branding capability in its current space within a county owned building. It is responsible for the full costs of operating that facility, including real estate and business tangible taxes. Other county supported arts groups performing in county subsidized spaces are not required to pay taxes.
“Signature is thriving, and has a great future ahead of it,” Donnellan said. “This grant addresses an immediate, short-term need by providing temporary relief from a tax burden that is not shared by other supported arts groups.”
The county emphasizes that the theater is a cultural anchor for Shirlington and provides financial benefits to the community. It estimates that more than $150,000 in annual sales and meals taxes can be directly attributed to Signature’s presence in Shirlington.
Signature faced several debt-related lawsuits in Arlington General District Court last year, including claims from Waste Management, Conde Nast Publications and the Delancey at Shirlington Village apartment building. The Waste Management and Conde Nast claims were eventually dismissed. The court ruled in favor of Delancey at Shirlington Village.
County Treasurer Frank O’Leary told the Sun Gazette that Signature was delinquent on its real estate and business taxes.
Norovirus Outbreak at Nottingham Elementary — Dozens of students at Nottingham Elementary School have been sickened in what is believed to be an outbreak of norovirus. The contagious stomach illness causes serious nausea and vomiting. So far, Arlington Public Schools officials have not responded to a request for more information from ARLnow.com. [WJLA]
County Board Not Interested in Meals Tax Changes — In response to a speaker at Saturday’s Arlington County Board meeting who was critical of the county’s 4 percent meals tax, County Board members said they’re not inclined to make any changes to the tax. The meals tax is levied on restaurant bills and on the purchase of prepared meals from grocery stores, on top of the state’s 5 percent sales tax. [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Org Targeted By IRS — The Clarendon-based Leadership Institute, a conservative training organization, says it was among the conservative groups targeted for audits and extra scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service. [Washington Free Beacon]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Heavy Seas Alehouse to Open in Rosslyn — Baltimore brewer Heavy Seas plans to open a restaurant at the newly renovated 1501 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. So far, the existing Baltimore location is the only other Heavy Seas Alehouse besides the one planned for Rosslyn. The restaurant is expected to open by the end of this year. [Washington Business Journal]
Army Ten-Miler Registration to Begin — Registration for the Army Ten-Miler opens at midnight on Wednesday, May 15. This year, 35,000 spots will be available for the October 20 race, instead of 30,000. General admission entries sold out within nine hours last year. [Army Ten-Miler]
Local Eighth Grader Named State’s Top Female Orator — Swanson Middle School eighth grader Dorothee Mulumba won the Virginia State Oratorical Contest on May 4. In total, her scholarship winnings from the local, regional and state competitions add up to $3,000. [Sun Gazette]
McDonnell Signs Transportation Bill — On Monday, Gov. Bob McDonnell signed the transportation funding bill into law. The law cuts the state’s 17.5 cents per gallon gas tax and raises the state sales tax from 5 percent to 5.3 percent, in addition to adding a $64 registration fee for hybrid vehicles. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Mark C. White
The Arlington County Board has unanimously approved a new $1.09 billion budget that, as expected, raises real estate taxes by 3.5 cents.
The Board raised taxes slightly above the 3.2 cent increase recommended by County Manager Barbara Donnellan, citing the need to eliminate proposed cuts to the police and fire departments and the county’s child care office, and the need to increase funding to safety net programs and Arlington Public Schools.
Arlington’s tax rate will now increase to $1.006 per $100 of assessed value.
“The overall tax and fee burden for the average Arlington homeowner will increase 4.1% — or about $23 a month,” according to a county press release (below, after the jump). “The adopted tax rate is lower than the advertised rate of $1.021 per $100 of assessed value. (It is also lower than the proposed rates for all other Northern Virginia jurisdictions, which range from $1.038 to $1.33.)”
Additional funding for the budget came thanks to an improved financial outlook, which in turn boosts tax revenues.
“This allowed the Board to restore many proposed service reductions, while only increasing the tax rate three-tenths of a cent above what was included in the proposed budget,” the county said.
The Right Note is a weekly opinion column by published on Thursdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
The new Virginia transportation plan assumes it will receive revenue from online sales taxes captured under proposed legislation currently being considered by Congress. While the plan faces a number of hurdles in Washington, many are wondering how it would work?
Online sales have been largely exempt from taxes based on a Supreme Court case decision requiring a seller to have a physical presence in a state in order to be subject to collecting that state’s sales tax. Instead of trying to overturn this legal precedent, proponents of imposing online sales taxes have deftly moved to the other, largely unknown side, of the tax. It’s known as the use tax.
If you’ve never heard of it, you are not alone. By some estimates, 99 percent of use taxes are not paid. This makes it the type of ineffective government plan that is likely to be a prime candidate for repeal.
What is a use tax? In the simplest terms, residents of Virginia are legally required to pay a tax on any items you purchase that are not currently subject to a sales tax. So, whether you have been shopping tax free at Amazon.com or in Delaware, you technically owe Virginia sales tax on those items.
I found out about the use tax the hard way when my wife received an item as a gift that was shipped into Virginia from North Carolina. The revenue office acquired the shipping invoice and sent us a tax bill well over a year later. Rather than spending countless hours fighting the charge, we simply paid it, despite not having purchased the item ourselves.
Since then, I have always made a voluntary contribution to the use tax on my annual Virginia tax return. I also have been waiting for a statewide candidate who calls for repealing the use tax as part of their platform.
Now the use tax is proposed as the vehicle for a big revenue increase that will take more money out of our economy. Under the theory that we in Virginia, and in most states, currently owe this use tax anyway, the proponents of federal legislation view this mechanism as a way around the Supreme Court ruling requiring a physical presence in a state to collect sales taxes. To do so, the plan would require us to pay the use taxes for Virginia on online sales at the point of sale.
If the federal law enabling use tax collections passes, Richmond should drop the plans to spend it. Instead, we should move to immediately lower the sales and use tax rate in a manner that ensures there is no net increase in revenue. Our Virginia economy would benefit from this approach. It would help all Virginians, and particularly those with lower incomes who need to maximize their buying power.
Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.
The Arlington County Board is set to vote on modified version of County Manager Barbara Donnellan’s recommended budget that includes a 3.5 cent tax hike while eliminating proposed cuts to the police and fire departments.
Donnellan had proposed a 3.2 cent real estate tax increase. The Board gave itself extra budget wiggle room by advertising a 5 cent increase in February. At a Fiscal Year 2014 budget markup work session Tuesday afternoon, the Board tentatively settled on a tax rate in-between the two, but closer to that proposed by Donnellan. The extra 0.3 cents will bring nearly $1 million in additional tax revenue.
The Board will vote on a final budget and tax rate at its meeting on Saturday.
The marked-up budget removes Donnellan’s proposal to slash community policing and reduce fire department fill-in staffing. As promised by County Board Chair Walter Tejada, it also restores funding for the county’s child care office.
Other additions to the budget, as reported to ARLnow.com, include $400,000 for permanent supportive housing, $660,000 for human services case managers and community nursing.
The Board also made some preliminary decisions about what to do with $11 million in “close out” funds left over from the FY 2013 budget. Among other measures, the Board will consider directing $3 million to the Affordable Housing Investment Fund and $2 million to a land acquisition fund for the parks department, along with additional funding for numerous community non-profit organizations.
Memorial Bridge in Need of Renovations — The 81-year-old Arlington Memorial Bridge, which was once a functioning drawbridge, is in urgent need of repairs. The repairs could cost as much as $250 million and close the span for three months. [Washington Post]
Free Stuff on Tax Day — Among other Tax Day offers around town today, April 15, California Tortilla is offering free chips and queso to anyone who comes in and uses the secret code “1040.” The restaurant has locations in Courthouse and Crystal City. If you’ve procrastinated and need some free tax advice, check out our three Q&A sessions with local tax pro Bobby Grohs.
Recognizing Arlington’s ECC Staff — Arlington County is recognizing National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, which runs April 14-20, and lauding the work of the county’s Emergency Communications Center staff — the men and women you talk to when you dial 911. “We commend these professionals on their tireless efforts to support emergency responders and to provide critical services to the citizens of our nation,” the county said in a press release. [Arlington County]
Editor’s Note: Ask Me (Almost) Anything is intended to be a local, community-oriented version of Reddit’s Ask Me Anything discussion threads. See below for discussion guidelines.
If you’ve put off doing your taxes until now, and you need some last-minute advice, you’re in luck – local tax guru Bobby Grohs is back for one last reader question-and-answer session before the big day.
Grohs launched Arlington-based Tax Matters LLC in 1998. A Certified Public Accountant and University of Maryland grad, Grohs specializes in “comprehensive tax and consulting services for clients ranging from individual taxpayers, small businesses and nonprofits located throughout the greater Washington metropolitan area.”
Grohs will be answering you questions in the comment section until 5:00 p.m. If you’d like to reach him after the discussion is over, head to the Tax Matters website, email email@example.com or call 703-593-7391.
Man Struck by Car in Clarendon Runs Race — Michael Sizemore, 28, is making a remarkable recovery after being struck by a car in Clarendon and nearly dying this past fall. Sizemore, who suffered a fractured skull and two broken legs in the accident, among other injuries, ran a 5K race in Martinsville, Va., near his hometown of Collinsville, this past Saturday. Sizemore’s father, girlfriend, friends and other families were on hand to cheer him on. [Martinsville Bulletin, Facebook]
Residents Speak Out at Tax Rate Hearing — It was a much shorter affair than Tuesday’s nearly four hour public budget hearing, but a public hearing on Arlington County’s proposed tax rate drew a small crowd of activists Thursday night. Those advocating for more affordable housing and social services asked the County Board to raise taxes up to the legal maximum of 5 cents, while budget hawks asked for no tax increase or, at minimum, following the County Manager’s recommendation for a 3.2 cent tax increase. [Sun Gazette]
County to Hold Student ‘ART’ Contest — The county is challenging budding middle school and high school artists in Arlington to design a pedestrian safety-themed “wrap” for buses. The winning entry will be used to wrap one ART bus. The submission deadline is June 3. [Arlington County]
Registration Open for Bike to Work Day — Cyclists interested in participating in Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 17, can register online. There are three official pit stops in Arlington — Freshbikes in Ballston (3924 Wilson Blvd), Gateway Park in Rosslyn (1300 Lee Hwy) and Crystal City Water Park (1750 Crystal Drive). There will also be a stop in East Falls Church along the W&OD Trail near the intersection of Lee Hwy and N. Washington Street. Last year, a record 12,700 people in the D.C. area participated in the event.
Possibility of Another Record Low Year for Tax Delinquencies — If Arlington residents continue paying their taxes as expected, the county could experience another record low for its tax delinquency rate. Treasurer Frank O’Leary says the current delinquency rate is 0.397 percent, which is below the 0.47 percent for Fiscal Year 2012. FY 2012 had the lowest tax delinquency rate in recorded county history. [Sun Gazette]
Amnesty International 5K Run for Rights on Saturday — Amnesty International will be holding its first 5K Run for Rights at 8:00 a.m. this Saturday, March 30. The race begins at Bluemont Park. Online registration closes tonight (Thursday) at 7:00 p.m., but on-site registration will be offered on race day. More details are available on the event’s Facebook page.
McDonnell has vetoed two bills that would have allowed Arlington County to levy a 0.25 percent hotel tax surcharge. The Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) surcharge would have helped fund the county’s tourism promotion efforts, and was actually lobbied for by the Hotel General Managers’ Committee of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.
Del. Bob Brink (D-Arlington), the sponsor of the House bill (HB 2303) that passed last month, says the governor called him on Monday night to tell him that he was planning to veto the bill. Gov. McDonnell said he was vetoing Arlington’s TOT bill, and a similar bill for the City of Fairfax, because he was concerned about Northern Virginia hotels being “placed in a competitive disadvantage in comparison with D.C. and Maryland,” according to Brink.
The local hotel tax surcharge increase bills came at the same time as a legislated increase in the regional TOT in Northern Virginia, as part of the state’s sweeping transportation funding package. McDonnell also reduced the Northern Virginia TOT increase from 3 percent to 2 percent on Tuesday.
(Other amendments to the transportation package made by McDonnell include a slight reduction in the proposed vehicle titling tax — from 4.3 to 4.15 percent — a reduction in the new annual fee paid by owners of hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles — from $100 to $64 — and the reduction of a regional congestion fee.)
In a statement, Brink said that McDonnell’s veto of his bill will hurt, not help local hotels.
I’m disappointed that the Governor has taken this action and that the Arlington bill got caught up in the larger politics of the transportation bill. The concern that the Governor expressed to me — our hospitality sector’s competitive position in relation to neighboring jurisdictions — is the precise reason that Arlington’s hospitality industry sought this legislation. In the uncertain economic climate of the DC region, Arlington’s hotels need all the tools available to compete for tourism and business travel. HB 2303 would have given them one powerful additional tool, and I regret that our business community won’t have it at its disposal.