October 5, 2020
Re: Notice of Jurisdiction
Business Tangible Personal Property Tax
This notice of jurisdiction is issued upon the application for correction filed by ***** (the “Taxpayer”), with the Department. The Taxpayer appeals an assessment of business tangible personal property tax issued to the Taxpayer by ***** (the “County”) for the 2019 tax year.
The following determination is based on the facts presented to the Department summarized below. The Code of Virginia sections cited are available online in the Laws, Rules and Decisions section of the Department’s web site, located at www.tax.virginia.gov.
The County issued an assessment of business tangible personal property on one of the Taxpayer’s vehicles for the 2019 tax year. The Taxpayer appealed to the County, contending the vehicle was registered and exclusively garaged in the ***** (State A). The County responded by stating that the 2019 assessment would not be abated because the County had received multiple reports of the vehicle being parked or garaged in its jurisdiction. The Taxpayer then filed an appeal with the Department.
Virginia Code § 58.1-3980 provides that any person aggrieved by an assessment of local taxes “may, within three years from the last day of the tax year for which such assessment is made, or within one year from the date of the assessment, whichever is later, apply to the commissioner of the revenue or such other official who made the assessment for a correction thereof.” Under this procedure, if the taxpayer disagrees in whole or in part with the local assessing officer’s determination, the taxpayer may then seek correction with the circuit court under the provisions of Virginia Code § 58.1-3984.
Virginia Code § 58.1-3983.1 B 1 provides that any person assessed with a “local business tax . . . may appeal such assessment within one year from the last day of the tax year for which such assessment is made, or within one year from the date of such assessment, whichever is later, to the commissioner of the revenue or other assessing official.” Under this provision, if the taxpayer’s appeal is denied in part or completely by the local assessing official, the taxpayer may, within 90 days, appeal the assessment to the Department.
In addition, under Title 23 of the Virginia Administrative Code (VAC) 10-500-710 and the Guidelines for Appealing Local Business Taxes, issued as Public Document (P.D.) 04-28 (6/25/2004), “local assessing officer” means the Commissioner of Revenue or chief assessing officer or his designee. Therefore, to qualify as a final local determination, the letter should normally be signed by the Commissioner of the Revenue or chief assessing officer and not an employee working at their direction, unless the individual has been expressly designated by the Commissioner of the Revenue or chief assessing officer and evidence of such designation is included with the final local determination. See P.D. 18-140 (3/30/2018). Additionally, Title 23 VAC 10-500-710 contains specific language that must be included in any written final determination.
In this case, the response the Taxpayer describes as the final local determination was an electronic mail sent by an employee of the County’s personal property division. Nothing therein indicated that the individual was expressly designated by the Commissioner of the Revenue or chief assessing officer to issue final local determinations. In addition, the response did not state that it was a final local determination or contain the specific language that must be included in any written final local determination.
For the reasons stated above, the Department lacks jurisdiction to address this appeal. I am remanding this case back to the County with instruction to issue a final local determination in accordance with P.D. 04-28. Once a proper final local determination has been issued, the Taxpayer, if it is not satisfied with such determination, may file an appeal under either Virginia Code § 58.1-3980 or § 58.1-3983.1 within the time prescribed by law. If the Taxpayer wishes to appeal to the Department at that point, the Taxpayer must proceed under Virginia Code § 58.1-3983.1.
Craig M. Burns