DEVELOPING STORY — County Vehicle Decals and Tax Bills Delayed Due to Printer Problems

by ARLnow.com September 10, 2010 at 4:59 pm 3,044 31 Comments

By this time, Arlington residents were supposed to have received about 95,000 115,000 vehicle decals and their accompanying 2011 personal property tax bills. But a problem with the printer has delayed the mailings until next week, throwing into limbo County Treasurer Frank O’Leary’s policy, per state law, of getting the bills to taxpayers 30 days before the October 5 payment deadline.

The printer problem wasn’t confined to Arlington. The same printing company is used by at least one other local jurisdiction, we’re told.

In Arlington, the decals must be displayed by November 15, which will give drivers plenty of time. But meeting the October 5 deadline for paying the tax may be more problematic.

“The county is trying to figure out a way to ensure that people have adequate time to pay their bills before any penalties are imposed,” a county source told ARLnow.com. One possibility is waiving the fees for late payments, up to a certain date. (Update: October 15. See below.)

If you don’t want to wait for the bill in the mail, you can pay your taxes online here.

Hat tip to J.A. for the heads up.

Update at 8:00 p.m. — The county has released a press release.

ARLINGTON, Va. – Defective forms have delayed the mailing of some 115,000 personal property tax bills, Arlington County Treasurer Frank O’Leary said today. The problem also affected the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church, all of whom use the same form supplier, Graphic Communications, for their tax bills.

Arlington mailed some 45,000 bills this week, and expects to mail the remaining 70,000 bills next week, O’Leary said. By state law, the bills are required to be mailed no later than 30 days before the deadline for paying them. The County, by ordinance, has established Oct. 5 as the payment deadline for personal property tax.

Due to the delay, the County will only begin to charge penalties on payments received or postmarked after Oct. 15, to ensure ample time for residents to pay their bills.

“It is unfortunate that the bills could not be mailed in a timely fashion this year,” O’Leary said. “We regret this inconvenience for residents and the concern that it has caused.”

O’Leary noted that any additional printing and mailing costs will be borne by the vendor.

“We are glad that a solution has been found that is fair to taxpayers and fair to the County,” said Board Chairman Jay Fisette.

  • Captain Krunchy

    Me wonders – was it the printer for the decals or the printer for the bills (or both)?… If the printer for the decals is at fault, perhaps another reason for Arlington to finally get rid of the stupid decals!! (I know, that will never happen…)

    • NPGMBR

      Didn’t even matter to me. I always get my notice via email as well. Totally forgot about the paper bill and decal. Good thing I read this article.

  • G

    Can’t believe they charged $33 for the decal this year… Either way, the bills have been available online for at least a few weeks now. Already paid mine…


  • bob

    Kill the decal fee! Decals should be free if you pay tax!

  • charlie

    kill the decals. not needed.
    kill the competition. waste of time. clearly too many people on that staff.

  • chris

    Got my “notice of taxes due” a few weeks ago – the decal and notice just came in the mail today.

  • cj

    Please check your source about the mailing delay. My bill & decal arrived in today’s mail.

    • charlie

      did ARLNOW get set up by Scott McCafferty at the Sun?

      • I haven’t talked to Scott since the CivFed debate, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Sun Gazette runs an item on their web site tomorrow.

      • Skeptical

        Poor McCaffrey. Not only can’t he get any love (what with people suspecting him of dirty tricks) but no one ever spells his name right. (And I have heard it said that all press is good press as long as your name is spelled right.)

    • Some may have been mailed today, I heard from another source. Nonetheless, even if it arrived today it’s arriving five days later than state laws says it should have arrived.

      • charlie

        but what does that mean? 1. so what and 2. does francis xavier care?

    • NPGMBR

      Just because you received yours does not mean the problem does not exist. I have not received mine but I have already paid my bill because I received an email notifying me of the bill.

      I too agree with others that the decal should be free since we already pay out taxes.

  • wes

    I received mine today and was quite surprised to see that the value of my 2007 Jeep appreciated 4.5% since last year. I knew Wranglers held their resale value pretty well, but I didn’t realize its assessed value would increase year after year. Maybe if I hold onto mine long enough I can trade it in straight-up for a Range Rover.
    …Accordingly, has anyone on here had any success disputing your assessment, or should I not even waste my energy?

    • HP2000

      My wife successfully appealed the car tax assessment one year, but it was a whole lot of work for a $15.00 rebate. And they make you pay the amount on your bill first… and if there is an adjustment, you receive the refund later.

  • John

    Cheap old car so property tax was zero, but still had to pay $33 for the “privilege” of a sticker. For a while Fairfax got rid of their stickers and sticker fee, but brought it back to raise more money. Wish Arlington would get rid of theirs permanently.

    • charlie

      got the same prob. can’y figure out why i have to pay $33 to say I paid a tax i didn’t pay. doh.

  • charlie

    congrats arlnow. well done.

  • TGEoA

    Let em keep the money but ditch the sticker. It’s annoying to have to scrape off and try and get it on straight again.

  • g_clifford_prout

    I got TWO real estate tax bills this time. Both for the same amount/property/tax period. Called the Treasurer’s office and was told “the printer made an error.” I might suggest Arlington getting rebate from this error prone printer.

  • arlington

    I just received the bill as well and was surprised at the due date, given when they mailed it. This is a helpful explanation. Given that the County knew they were mailing these late, though, they should have included something in the mailing that changed the due date.

    • Novanglus

      Printing an insert with the new date and stuffing those would have delayed the bills even further (notice that they’re dated August 14!). I’m glad they went ahead and mailed them ASAP and issued the press release.

      • arlington

        Yeah, I noticed that August 14 printing date, which adds to the confusion. Although it would have meant that the County would need to get paid later, given that it is the County’s responsibility to get this right, I think they should have corrected the mailing and not sent out a bill in mid-September that implies that it was actually mailed in mid-August; that’s not really a proper way to bill people and is usually considered a sketchy practice in many contexts. This isn’t the end of the world, but it definitely doesn’t live up to the standard one expects from Arlington County.

  • HP2000

    Ever since the County went to this system of sending you the decal with the bill (instead of after paying your tax), I never get a bill in the mail (this is like 4 years running). I call to complain and they just say that the records show the bill and decal were mailed. Inevitably I have to go to the Tax office to pay in person. Coincidentally, I sent an email earlier in the day on Friday asking for some help since I hadn’t received my bill/decal in the mail. Of course I got the bill electronically through the payment portal… but without the decal it doesn’t help much. I wonder if this printing problem has been going on for awhile… but why would my address always be affected? Sigh…

  • Jack

    kill the decal!!!

    • Dan

      “Kill the decal”
      They won’t……it is a million plus windfall for the county.
      I went back and forth with arguing with an Arlington county employee as to the utility of the decal.
      He lost the argument as to its utlity in assuring that the tax has been paid…at that point he quit responding to my emails.
      Raising the fee for the decal just adds insult to injury.
      Remember this when you vote this Fall.

      • Jack

        i agree with you – but until we change the way we elect our board members (to either proportional representation or districts) – i’m not holding out hope. over 50% of the arlington electorate just blindly votes for the candidate offered to them by the Democratic party machine. very sad.

        • Dan

          “but until we change the way we elect our board members (to either proportional representation or districts)”

          I agree with you that the odds of voting out an incumbent in the at-large system are rather low but until a new petition effort can be put together, the best any of us can do is vote against whoever the ACDC put up for election.

          The odd thing, is that I tend to vote for Democrats in elections at other levels of the government.

  • Beth

    Just an FYI: Alexandria City hasn’t extended the deadline – due date is still Oct. 5. Isn’t this against the law though because we haven’t had 30 days notice? (I just got mine in the mail on Saturday)

  • G

    The value that the county assessed my car this year was the same as last year…


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