Virginia Taxes Skyrocket

Over the past decade, property taxes in Northern Virginia have skyrocketed along with assessments. Taxes have increased to the point that taxes in Northern Virginia are scarcely any lower than in Washington, D.C. Marc Fisher has a column today in the Washington Post noting that taxes in D.C. are now lower than in nearby Maryland counties and virtually on par with counties in Northern Virginia. (Actually, although he doesn’t point this out, taxes are higher for many households in Virginia towns like Falls Church than they are in D.C.).

Now, Virginia’s governor, Tim Kaine, wants to further increase taxes by increasing the sales tax on autos.

Last year’s transportation bill, which Kaine signed, authorized a new grantor’s tax on homeowners in Northern Virginia and Hampton Road to finance regional transportation authorities (which promptly raised taxes, and are using the tax money partly for vanity projects like a street-clogging trolley in Arlington’s stretch of the Columbia Pike). The tax is at least $2,000 on the sale of a typical Northern Virginia home. The tax is imposed on people regardless of how little they use state roads (of course, none of this tax is paid by out-of-state motorists, even though they use and benefit from state roads). The transportation bill also authorized an array of regional taxes on auto repairs and other services, as well as increasing car registration fees.

The transportation bill Kaine signed into law also imposed so-called abusive-driver fees on motorists who engage in reckless driving or other offenses. The original version of the transportation bill applied the abusive-driver fees to both Virginians and out-of-state motorists alike, but Kaine amended the bill to exempt out-of-state motorists, triggering many court challenges alleging that the law violates constitutional equal-protection guarantees by discriminating based on state of residence. (Some state circuit judges have declared the discrimination unconstitutional, but most judges have upheld it against constitutional challenges).