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Loudoun County to do away with vehicle decal tax program, except in Purcellville and Hamilton

Starting next July, Loudoun County residents can kiss their vehicle decals goodbye -- unless they're from Purcellville or Hamilton.

On Thursday the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to get rid of the decades-long vehicle decal program. Supervisors also agreed to have the treasurer and commissioner of the revenue take on the billing, collection, and administration of personal property and real property taxes for the towns of Leesburg, Lovettsville, Hillsboro, Middleburg and Round Hill.

Thursday’s vote also included converting the vehicle decal fee to a $25 vehicle license fee requirement effective next July.

Since the 1980s the county relied on the $25 decals as a way to determine whether local residents were up to date on their personal property taxes. In recent years, however, a number of jurisdictions have been eliminating the decals and opting for a license fee.

Supervisors have discussed the decal program for years and considered scrapping it, but Treasurer Roger Zurn (R) consistently defended the program.

In January, county staff began studying the issues related to enforcement of and revenue from the decal program.

But last month, when Zurn recommended his office take on the town taxes, he said that by adding those new personal property accounts and parcels from the towns, it would make it a nightmare for his office to manage the additional vehicle decals.

Currently, town residents receive a tax bill from the county and from their respective town with different due dates and payment methods, a process Zurn said has caused quite a bit of confusion. Changing the current system will allow town residents to receive one bill for both county and town taxes.

The towns of Hamilton and Purcellville said they did not want to participate in the combined tax collection at this time and, therefore, will still need to use the vehicle decals.

The county at one point thought getting rid of the decal program would have resulted in as much as a $5.6 million revenue loss. However, after looking into alternatives to the program and cutting out the $430,000 in annual costs it takes to administer the decals and run Project Fairness -- the operation that uses two sheriff’s deputies to enforce the decal program -- they expect the revenue loss will be much less.

Although scrapping the decal program is likely to be an easy endeavor, bringing the towns into the county’s tax and billing system will be much more tricky.

To bring in the five towns, the county will still need:

- Enabling legislation from the General Assembly to allow the county to embark on the new system and for the county to be compensated for the service

- Memorandums of understandings will still need to be negotiated and executed between the towns and Zurn to set forth conditions of the new process

- Participating towns will need to enact an ordinance or resolution granting the treasurer authority to bill and collect real and personal property taxes owed to the towns

- Only if enabling legislation is passed, all participating towns will need to enact an ordinance or resolution granting the treasurer authority to bill and collect real and personal property taxes owed to the towns;

-To launch a centralized billing and collection system, each participating town will need to amend its tax related ordinances and business processes and align them with county tax ordinances and practices;

- And if enabling legislation is granted, the Board of Supervisors will still need to adopt a resolution and enact ordinances to allow the treasurer to collect the real and personal property taxes and vehicle license fees for the towns.

Although the vehicle decal program will be gone by next summer, the county will only begin providing billing and collection for some of the towns effective tax year 2019 for real property and tax year 2020 for personal property and vehicle license fees.


Thank God!  Finally, that pesky little two bit politician will no longer have every car in the county to advertise his name.

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