Vehicle tax bills kept in check

by Kate Shunney

County taxpayers would be looking at bigger personal property bills this month if assessors around the state hadn’t lobbied for some relief from rising vehicle values.

Morgan County Assessor Debbie Weaver said the Association of West Virginia Assessors approached State Tax Commissioner Matthew Irby with the idea of using July 2021 vehicle values to generate 2022 tax bills.

Morgan County Assessor Debbie Weaver.

“COVID-19 increased new and used car values tremendously in 2021,” said association president Joseph “Rocky” Romano.

In September, Governor Jim Justice signed Executive Order 25-21 which allowed the vehicle values to be established at the previous year’s level or the lowest values in the current year.

The order, in part, said, “due to the ongoing pandemic, the automobile values in all nationally accepted used car guides are artificially inflated primarily due to supply issues created by the coronavirus pandemic, and basing such schedule for taxation purposes on such artificially-inflated used car prices would be to the detriment of West Virginia’s citizenry…”

Weaver said her own vehicle tax bill and many others would have gone up tremendously if the state association hadn’t proposed keeping values steady for the new tax year.

Instead, the number of value increase letters her office sent out remained relatively unchanged this year.

The Assessor’s Office must inform property owners if the value of any of their real property is 110% greater than last year’s assessment or has gone up more than $1,000.

In 2021, the Morgan County Assessor’s Office sent out 1,038 letters to inform property owners of a jump in valuation. This year, her office sent out 1,144 letters.

“The 2022 Personal Property bill you will receive this July may be comparable to your 2021 tax bill, rather than what would have been a significant increase,” Weaver said.