Arlington, VA

A state organization aimed at helping Virginians identify unclaimed property will set up a booth next week to help locals find previously unknown money.

On Thursday (Oct. 3) from noon to 5 p.m. and on Friday (Oct. 4) from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m., the Virginia Department of the Treasury’s program VA Money Search is scheduled to set up in the lobby of the county government building at 2100 Clarendon Blvd.

With a name like “vamoneysearch.org” and a mascot of a man in a trench coat, the program would seem a little suspicious, but Stephanie Shea, a spokesperson for the Arlington County Treasurer’s office, said the program is operated by the state government.

“The Treasury is mandated to try to find the rightful owners of money that is unclaimed,” Shea said. “There is no fee for this service, it’s totally free.  We invite everyone to stop by the team’s table in the lobby of 2100 Clarendon Blvd to find money.”

Last year, Shea said the organization found $68,026.68 in one day.

“Last year one County employee found over $3,000,” Shea said. “Money is found from closed bank accounts, insurance policies, wages from an old job, etc.”

A press release from the program said that overall it returned $79 million to Virginia citizens in 2018. According to the release:

Unclaimed Property can be generated in nearly every financial transaction with any company. Property becomes unclaimed when the holder company has not had contact with the owner of the property or funds for a specified time, then the account is considered dormant. Dormant accounts by law must be turned over to the state… Unclaimed Property stays in our database until the rightful owner or heir files a claim.

Photo via VA Money Search/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Arlington Loses Top Economic Development Official — “Christina Winn, one of the lead Arlington officials tasked with luring Amazon to the county, is taking over as Prince William County’s top economic development official.” [Washington Business Journal]

Marymount Prez Wants to Double Enrollment — “Irma Becerra hit the ground running the moment she took over the Marymount University presidency… her chief goal is as straightforward as it is ambitious: Double the school’s size in the next five years.” [Washington Business Journal]

18th Street Headache — “As they wrap up the demolition of the Clark St. bridge over 18th [Street S. in Crystal City], the eastbound side of 18th will be closed Thursday and Friday this week.” [Twitter]

Howell Gets Fall Challenger — “It’s an uphill battle, to be certain, but Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance president Arthur Purves will take on, as a Republican, seven-term incumbent state Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd) in the Nov. 5 election. The district snakes from Howell’s home turf of Reston eastward into portions of Arlington.” [InsideNova]

Arlington Treasurer Leads State Association — “Arlington County Treasurer Carla de la Pava was sworn in as the President of the Treasurers’ Association of Virginia (TAV) at the association’s annual conference in Arlington.” [Press Release]

Boeing’s Space HQ Moving Out of Arlington — “Boeing will move its space headquarters from Arlington, Va., to the Florida Space Coast as it pursues a number of rocket and spacecraft programs, including one that would launch astronauts from U.S. soil for the first time since the space shuttle retired in 2011.” [Washington Post]

Townhomes Proposed for Crystal House Property — “The proposed expansion of the Crystal House apartment complex is getting a little larger, with 21 townhomes now part of plans at the Crystal City property… The company has already filed for permission to add 798 units across four new buildings on the 29.8-acre site.” [Washington Business Journal]

Nearby: Design of Potomac Yard Metro Revealed — “The city of Alexandria, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and Potomac Yard Constructors, the private joint venture picked to build the station, have submitted a design for an upcoming evaluation by the city’s Board of Architectural Review. The station design calls for a stone base, a metal canopy and metal louvers, a glass curtain wall and exo-skeleton system, a standing seam metal roof and roof skylight panels. There will be bathrooms on the eastern side, between a set of elevators and an electrical room.” [Washington Business Journal]

Photo courtesy Celia Slater

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Morning Notes

Ballston Mall LED Screens Nixed — Developer Forest City is, for now, withdrawing a request to install two large, high-definition LED video screens above the main entrance to its still under-construction Ballston Quarter mall. The screens do not comply with Arlington zoning rules. Attorneys for Forest City say they are still hoping that the County Board will eventually amend the zoning ordinance to allow such screens. [Washington Business Journal]

Free ART Bus Rides Thursday — “Think there’s no such thing as a free ride? Not if you take the bus in Arlington, Virginia, and you’re traveling on Sept. 20. Arlington Transit is letting passengers ride free Sept. 20 as a way to celebrate the transit agency’s 20th anniversary.” [WTOP]

Tax Delinquency List — Arlington County Treasurer Carla de la Pava has released her office’s annual list of residents and businesses that have not paid their taxes. The list includes nearly $200,000 in delinquent real estate taxes, $1.3 million in delinquent personal property taxes, $1 million in delinquent business license and property taxes, and more than $500,000 in delinquent meal (restaurant) taxes. [Arlington County]

Celebrating Community and Elders in Nauck — “Celebrating the lives and achievements of the community’s elders was a centerpiece of the 2018 Nauck Civic & Community Pride Day, which brought food, music and fellowship to Drew Model School on Sept. 15. Four community residents who had reached, or were set to reach, the centennial mark – Elizabeth Cole, Novella Cummings, Mary Lockett and Thelma Russell – were honored by the Nauck Civic Association.” [InsideNova]

Critic Praises Shirlington’s Signature — “The Tony Award-winning Signature Theatre — the Arlington troupe known for musicals — shapes up as my favorite D.C. company. I’m not saying Signature is hands-down the best theater in Washington… But Signature showcases a lot of assets, from its singular glam factor to plain old ease of use.” [Washington Post]

Late Night Storms — Thunderstorms that rumbled through Arlington around midnight last night brought a period of frequent lightning and thunder that set off car alarms and awakened some residents from their sleep. [Twitter, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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Morning Notes

More School Renaming Committees on the Way — Though the Washington-Lee controversy gets all the headlines, the School Board will also soon kick off the process of naming two new buildings and renaming two others. Patrick Henry ES will likely draw the most scrutiny. [InsideNova]

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe Fundraising for de Ferranti — Virginia’s last chief executive will help Democratic County Board hopeful Matt de Ferranti fill his campaign coffers later this month. McAuliffe, a potential 2020 presidential hopeful, joins Attorney General Mark Herring as another statewide politician lending de Ferranti a hand in his bid against John Vihstadt. [Twitter]

County Treasurer Slashes Tax Delinquency Rate Again — Carla de la Pava has hit new highs by ensuring that more taxpayers are keeping up with their payments than ever before, recording the lowest delinquency rate in county history. [InsideNova]

Arlington Centenarians Still Dancing — The county has at least 47 residents who have passed the 100-year mark, and they say they feel as young as ever. [WAMU]

Flickr pool photo via Erinn Shirley

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Morning Notes

Simple Greek Now Open — Fast-casual restaurant chain The Simple Greek has opened its new Rosslyn location in the Colonial Plaza shopping center. A ribbon cutting ceremony yesterday was followed by long lines at lunchtime. [Twitter, Twitter]

WiFi Available in Underground Metro Stations — As of today, free wireless internet service should be available in every underground Metro station. Per yesterday’s announcement from Metro: “Customers can log-in by selecting the ‘Metro-Public’ network in their device’s Wi-Fi settings.” [WMATA]

Signs Up for Sfoglina — “Coming soon” signs are up for the new Rosslyn outpost of the acclaimed Fabio and Maria Trabocchi restaurant Sfoglina Pasta House. The restaurant is located on the street level of the office building at 11oo Wilson Boulevard. [Twitter]

Water Rescue Near Chain Bridge — D.C. police and firefighters rescued two people whose kayak overturned in the Potomac River near Chain Bridge last night. Both were evaluated by medics but “neither have physical injuries,” per DCFEMS. [Twitter, Twitter]

Fox News Coming to Iwo Jima Memorial — On Sunday, Fox News Channel will broadcast a portion of its America’s News Headquarters program (noon-2 p.m.) from the Marine Corps War Memorial near Rosslyn. Elizabeth Prann will co-anchor “ANHQ” from the Memorial, “where the nation will be preparing for the Fourth of July fireworks celebration,” according to a Fox press release.

Arlington Has Millions in Prepaid Taxes — “The Arlington treasurer’s office still has about $8 million sitting untouched in its coffers, waiting to be applied to future tax payments. But that’s less than half the $17.2 million in total prepayments submitted by Arlington taxpayers in the waning days of 2017, hoping to beat changes to federal tax law that made some mortgage-interest payments non-deductible in 2018.” [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

Arlington Ridge Power OutageUpdated at 9:25 a.m. — A few dozen Dominion customers are without power in the Arlington Ridge and Pentagon City neighborhoods this morning due to an outage cased by “power line damage,” according to the utility’s website. Electricity is expected to be restored by 1 p.m. A tipster says the the Riverhouse apartments and some of the Pentagon Row shops were affected by the outage. Meanwhile, per Arlington County: “Arlington Ridge Road access from Washington Blvd as well as SB Arlington Ridge at S. Lynn Street will be closed for approximately 2 hours while Dominion Power repairs a damaged power line.” [Twitter]

APS Extended Day Website Survey — Arlington Public Schools is conducting a survey regarding its Extended Day management system. APS is considering a new system that would include an interactive parent portal, online registration, access to family accounts, and a database for family and staff information. [Arlington Public Schools, Google Forms]

Tax Delinquency Rate May Reach Record Low — “Arlington’s treasurer is optimistic that the county’s tax-delinquency rate could fall to another record low when it is reported later this summer… The delinquency rate to beat is the 0.226 percent reported last year, representing the amount of real-estate and personal-property taxes unpaid out of the roughly $800 million that flows through the treasurer’s office each year.” [InsideNova]

New Kettler Iceplex Sign — There’s a new sign on the parking garage in front of Kettler Capitals Iceplex: “Ballston / Home of the Washington Capitals / 2018 Stanley Cup Champions.” [Twitter]

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Frank O’Leary served as Treasurer of Arlington County for more than three decades and has seen it all.

During his time in office, O’Leary brought the tax delinquency rate down from 9 percent to less than 1 percent, but somehow managed to win friends in the process.

O’Leary, 74, is retired but still avidly follows and offers predictions about Arlington elections. We talked to him about his time in office, whether names like Jefferson Davis Highway and Washington-Lee High School need to change, his predictions for the upcoming November elections, and why restaurants are among the hardest businesses from which to collect taxes.

Listen below or subscribe to the podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher or TuneIn.

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Arlington County’s 2018-2019 vehicle decals will have a drawing of its skyline behind blossoming cherry trees.

At the Arlington County Board’s meeting Tuesday (January 30), Treasurer Carla de la Pava announced that Schuyler Workmaster, a junior at Bishop O’Connell High School, won first place in the annual design competition over three other finalists.

Workmaster, in her third year as a finalist, said she chose to draw the design as she was inspired by the county’s mix of urban and natural settings.

“I chose to do this because it shows both the urban and nature aspect of Arlington,” she said at the meeting before her win was announced. “It just comes together in both pieces, and works together to create beauty. I think it represents Arlington because it’s very diverse, but it comes together to form something beautiful.”

Workmaster’s work was chosen among design finalists from three fellow student competitors: last year’s winner Amy Kohan, a junior at Wakefield High School; Washington-Lee junior Tom Bolles; and Yorktown High School junior Maddy Heinemann. Workmaster will receive a $750 cash prize from the Arlington Community Federal Credit Union and her design will be displayed on approximately 160,000 vehicles starting later this year.

A record 3,619 votes were cast in the competition, a figure de la Pava said is up 11 percent from last year. She said the interest in voting in the contest is huge across the county.

“The part that really tickles me is that it comes from all areas of Arlington,” de la Pava said. “All the nooks and crannies except for [Arlington National Cemetery]… it really represents how widespread the interest is in voting for this decal.”

Students are instructed to produce a design that represents Arlington. This year’s competition was widened to include anything that they felt represented World War I and the county’s participation in the war.

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With uncertainty still swirling about whether taxpayers can deduct property tax prepayments, Arlington County is offering refunds for those who have already made deposits.

County Treasurer Carla de la Pava said the county has already collected around $18.2 million in prepayments from 2,300 accounts, with it still unclear whether taxpayers can deduct those prepayments from their 2017 federal taxes.

And unlike some other jurisdictions, de la Pava said, Arlington is offering refunds on prepayments for those who have changed their minds about paying early. She said around 75 people so far have requested a refund.

“This bill was passed through Congress, and it was very quick and it caused a lot of uncertainty,” she said. “I do not want that uncertainty to penalize Arlington citizens.”

Under the new GOP tax bill, State and Local Tax (SALT) deductions are capped at $10,000. For many Arlington taxpayers with pricey homes, this means they will lose part of their deduction next year and thus potentially pay higher federal taxes.

The Treasurer’s Office issued an advisory on how to request a refund on December 28, the morning after a ruling by the IRS limiting deductions to property taxes assessed in 2017.

Arlington is unable to assess 2018 property taxes until the County Board sets the tax rate in April, and de la Pava said with so many things still up in the air, it was better to give taxpayers options.

“It’s interesting, because what I’ve heard from many people is that they are certainly not going to request a refund right away because I think there’s a sense in the community that… things might change,” she said. “I even had one customer suggest that there might be something brewing in Congress that would make that IRS advisory stale information. There’s a lot of uncertainty still.”

The full advisory issued by the Treasurer’s Office is after the jump.

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(Updated at 1:55 p.m.) Arlington County has collected some $11.5 million in property tax deposits for future years, according to Treasurer Carla de la Pava, but it’s unclear whether taxpayers will be able to deduct those prepayments from their 2017 federal taxes.

Following a ruling by the IRS yesterday, limiting deductions to property taxes assessed in 2017, the county issued a statement Thursday afternoon that made it clear that Arlington is unable to assess 2018 property taxes until the County Board sets the tax rate in April.

The Arlington County Treasurer’s Office and Arlington County have received multiple inquiries based on the statement issued by the Internal Revenue Service on December 27, 2017, concerning deductibility of the property taxes. Neither the Treasurer nor the County staff will be offering individuals advice on tax issues and suggest people consult with a tax professional for any IRS related questions.

Arlington County, through the Department of Real Estate Assessment issues real property tax assessments each year in mid-January. The assessments for Calendar Year 2018 will be completed in mid-January and mailed to residents at that time.

Bills for taxes owed for calendar year 2018 are generated by the Treasurer after a tax rate is set by the County Board in April.

Those bills are due and payable in two installments – by June 15 for the first portion, and October 5 for the second portion.

De la Pava says the tax office has been inundated with tax deposits this week, but the activity has slowed considerably since the IRS ruling.

Taxpayers hoping to save on their taxes before the $10,000 cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions goes into effect next year have jammed the phone lines and the payment queues of the treasurer’s office. So far, $11.5 million in deposits have been made across more than 1,500 tax accounts, de la Pava said.

That includes some $4.5 million collected over a six hour span Wednesday, before the ruling, but it also includes $1.8 million collected today following the IRS determination.

De la Pava said that her office, which is roughly two-thirds staffed because of the holidays, handled 1,500 phone calls yesterday, while keeping wait times to around 30 minutes.

“It was crazy,” she told ARLnow.com. “They did the best they could.”

De la Pava and other county officials are being careful not to give federal tax advice to residents given the ongoing uncertainty.

“The only thing I can say is that the real estate assessments have not been made and will not be made in 2017,” she said.

Bobby Grohs of RLG Tax Advisors, an Arlington-based CPA firm, told ARLnow.com that the letter of the law suggests that deposits for Arlington property taxes will not be deductible.

“A prepayment of anticipated real property taxes that have not been assessed prior to 2018 is not deductible in 2017,” he said. “Since Arlington does their 2018 assessment in January, prepaying these taxes in 2017 will not permit you to take a deduction on your 2017 tax filings.”

But that has not stopped the tax deposits, which are continuing to flow in, though at a reduced rate. Some taxpayers believe that there will be lawsuits that may end up reversing the IRS ruling, we’re told.

Other D.C. area jurisdictions, meanwhile, are collecting prepayments that should be deductible under the IRS rules. Among them are the City of Falls Church and the District of Columbia, which have already assessed next year’s property taxes.

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The new GOP tax bill has prompted numerous Arlington taxpayers to prepay their 2018 taxes more than a year ahead of time.

The bill, which was just signed into law by President Trump this morning, caps State and Local Tax (SALT) deductions at $10,000. For many Arlington taxpayers with pricey homes, this means they will lose part of their deduction next year and thus potentially pay higher federal taxes.

To counter that, some Arlingtonians are planning to take a higher deduction on their 2017 taxes by prepaying their property tax for future years.

Arlington County and other Virginia localities allow residents to make tax deposits. County Treasurer Carla de la Pava tells ARLnow.com that more than $1 million in tax deposits have been prepaid by 144 residents as of Friday morning.

The Treasurer’s Office has been “inundated with people trying to pay in advance” and is expecting the prepayments to continue through the end of the year, de la Pava said. The first prepayment was made by an attorney about two weeks ago, when the bill was first passed by a narrow Republican majority in the U.S. Senate.

“It’s interesting because in Arlington [prepayments] started much earlier than anywhere else in the state,” de la Pava said, noting that it “has been a really big topic of conversation” on the Treasurers Association of Virginia email listserv.

Some prepayers are depositing more than a year of taxes in advance, while others are paying whichever potion of next year’s they can afford, we’re told.

Tax deposits have been an option for many years, but the Treasurer’s Office hasn’t seen a prepayment surge like this at any point in recent memory.

“We have never seen these volumes,” said de la Pava.

Tax deposits are invested by the Treasurer’s Office in “very safe” investments, earning a small return for the county.

De la Pava is encouraging taxpayers — particularly those paying the Alternative Minimum Tax — to consult with a CPA or tax expert before deciding whether to prepay. More from the treasurer’s website:

If you are interested in prepaying your 2018 taxes, the Treasurer’s Office can accept tax deposits on active Real Estate accounts. While our office does accept tax deposits, we are not experts in federal tax law and are not able to offer any advice, guidance, or opinion on whether or not your deposits will be deductible on your 2017 federal tax returns. If you have questions about making a tax deposit on your Arlington real estate, please email us at [email protected] or call 703-228-3090.

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