In March, Arlington County was on-track to set a new record low for tax delinquency rates.
Then, the coronavirus hit.
Delinquency rates had decreased by almost half since 2014, but COVID-19 erased two years of record-setting lows. The County is currently out nearly $10 million in uncollected tax revenue, de la Pava said.
For every 10,000 tax-paying residents and business, de la Pava had aimed to have only 17 fall behind, but when the collection year ended on Aug. 14, that proportion increased to 22. She told the County Board that next year, she predicts it will be “difficult, but achievable” to keep the rate under 30 delinquent residents and businesses per 10,000.
“We have our work cut out for us,” she said. “We started this collection year with the highest rate of delinquencies since I became treasurer,” or about $14 million.
The “elephant in the room” that contributed the most to the spike is delinquent real-estate taxes, which have never been higher in the County’s history, de la Pava said. Overall, the County is missing more than $5 million in property taxes for homes, apartments, hotels and businesses.
The highest percentage of households that have not paid their property taxes are clustered in the 22207 zip code: the northernmost part of North Arlington that includes the Cherrydale, Country Club Hills and Yorktown neighborhoods.
The highest percentage of businesses that have not paid their property taxes are centered in the 22202 zip code (the Crystal City, Pentagon City and Arlington Ridge neighborhoods) and 22206 (the Shirlington, Fairlington and Long Branch Creek neighborhoods).
Taxes on property used for business are also up dramatically, with number of delinquencies concentrated in the 22202 zip code. The amount owed along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, however, exceeds all other zip codes combined, de la Pava said.
This June, the treasurer’s office put a number of hotels and big businesses on Taxpayer Assistance Program loans so they could pay their taxes over 10 months, from August 2020 to May 2021. This came after her office offered a two-month deferral this spring that mostly benefited hard-hit restaurants and hotels.
John Marshall Bank, which partners with the county on the short-term loans, lowered its rates to make these repayment plans more affordable, she said.
“We prevented almost $1 million in going delinquent through TAP loans from John Marshall Bank,” de la Pava said.
To encourage safe and timely payments this year, de la Pava said her office added a temporary location this September and encouraged people to pay online, resulting in an 11% increase in online profiles.
The County Treasurer said she found another bright spot in vehicle taxes, which reached the second-lowest delinquency rate in Arlington’s history this year. Outreach, payment plans and automatic billing contributed to the lower delinquency, she said.
The Columbia Pike corridor, or the 22204 zip code, has the highest concentration of vehicle delinquencies, amounting to $1.1 million.
The treasurer’s office drafted 400 payment plans for vehicle taxes, saving $600,000 from going delinquent, de la Pava said.
Images via Arlington County
Arlington County has opened a temporary tax payment location.
As the Oct. 5 deadline approaches for vehicle personal property taxes and the second installment of real estate taxes, the Arlington County Treasurer’s Office on Monday opened a temporary payment location at Thomas Jefferson Community Center (3501 2nd Street S.) to accept payments in person.
The satellite location is in addition to the Treasurer’s Office payment windows on the second floor of county government headquarters (2100 Clarendon Blvd), which is open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
“In addition to having limited staff at our main office, we will be at Thomas Jefferson Community Center to safety take your payments in person, Sept. 21-25, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.,” the Treasurer’s Office said via email. “Please remember to wear a mask.”
Payments can also be made online via the Customer Assessment and Payment Portal (CAPP), mailed to Arlington County Treasurer at PO Box 1754, Merrifield, VA 22116-1754, or a check can be dropped off at one of two 24-hour drop boxes.
Any person financially impacted by COVID-19 may call the Treasurer’s Office at 703-228-4000 for assistance.
For anyone who moved or sold their vehicle, taxes may still be owed for the months the vehicle was still located in Arlington. Vehicle tax bills — which were mailed in August — should be reviewed for accuracy in this matter, the Treasurer’s Office said.
“If you are waiting for your account to be adjusted, please be sure to avoid a late payment penalty by paying your bill in full by October 5,” the office said. “Any overpayment will be refunded to you once your account has been adjusted.”
In a bit of relief for hard-hit restaurants and hotels, Arlington County’s Treasurer says tax payments due between now and the end of April can be deferred temporarily.
Treasurer Carla de la Pava said in a statement that her office will not impose penalties and interest on late tax payments, though tax returns are still due. The decision mostly affects meals taxes, paid by restaurants, and hotel taxes, and requires payment by May 31.
More from the Treasurer’s Office:
Carla de la Pava, Treasurer of Arlington County, has determined that late payment penalty and interest will not be imposed on local taxes with a payment due date between March 13 and April 30, 2020, if such taxes are paid in full by May 31, 2020. This decision primarily but not exclusively affects Arlington County Meals, Food, and Beverage Taxes and Transient Occupancy Taxes, which would ordinarily be due March 20 and April 20. Taxpayers should still file the required returns even if they are not paying the tax until a later date. Taxpayers are encouraged to pay their taxes on time if they have the financial means to do so. Any taxes previously paid will not be refunded. Taxpayers should direct questions to [email protected]
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
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
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
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
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]
Arlington Ridge Power Outage — Updated 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]
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.