Let’s face it, nobody likes to pay taxes. Taxes are a necessary evil to keep our government running. Understanding how taxes are levied might help ease the pain… or inspire you to get involved and have your opinion heard.
Virginia collects taxes on Real Estate a few different ways.
All property owners pay yearly property tax on the fair market value of their holdings. When you sell a home the Seller pays a Grantor’s tax, and in Loudoun, Fairfax, Prince William, and Arlington Counties, along with the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park, the Seller also pays a “Congestion Relief Fee” to the state of Virginia. The Buyer has transfer taxes that go to the city/county and the state of Virginia. As you can see, all parties in a Real Estate transaction get taxed on the purchase or sale of a home.
Property taxes are levied once a year by the county or city that you live in. They are paid in 2 installments throughout the year, usually December and July.
Usually your mortgage company escrows money from your monthly payment to cover your property taxes. Lenders do this to make sure the taxes on the home are being paid so there isn’t a lien placed on the property. The amount the property owner pays is determined by the fair market value of the property. An annual assessment program is used to calculate the amount. Owners pay a percentage, known as the property tax rate, on 100% of the fair market value as of January 1. Current years assessments are based on the past year sales. Assessed values are determined by a mass appraisal of similar properties that have been recently sold.
Don’t confuse an assessment with an appraisal or sales price. An appraisal is a detailed property valuation that a Lender performs at the time of the sale of a property. Sales price is the actual amount the property sold for. These numbers differ due to the complexity of Real Estate transactions. For example, the sales price of a home can differ from the assessed value or appraised value due to many external circumstances, such as the owner needing to sell quickly due to financial distress, or a homeowner selling their home to a family member at a price below market value.
Another way taxes are collected is at the settlement of the sale of all property. The Seller pays a Grantor’s tax, and in some jurisdictions a congestion relief tax. Both of these are calculated by a percentage of the value of the home, either the sales price or the appraised value, whichever is higher. The Virginia General Assembly currently has set the rate at $2.50 per $1,000. The purchaser pays recordation taxes to the county and state. These tax stamps vary between the jurisdictions and are sent to the clerk of the court.
Collecting Real Estate taxes is a large portion of revenue for both the state and local jurisdictions. In 2014, Real Estate construction contributed 6.1% to the nation’s economic output as measured by the Gross Domestic Product. Real Estate drives many facets of our economy, so therefore it makes sense that it is a large part of the tax base.
The JS Realty Team @ Samson Properties strives to keep our clients informed on all aspects of the Real Estate industry. Feel free to contact us with any questions or comments about Real Estate tax.
If you are looking to buy or sell a home, contact us today for a no-obligation consult!
The JS Realty Team – not only serving Brambleton, serving all of Northern Virginia.