Fairfax County Should Be Renamed Fairtax County… Er, Make that Unfairtax County

Sales prices for houses have been soaring across the country — by double digits in many metropolitan areas — and so are real estate property assessments. When assessments go up, so do taxes, unless city councils and county boards lower tax rates. In the current environment, holding a tax rate steady amounts to a tax increase. Even a 5% reduction in the tax rate can amount to a tax increase if assessments are up 10%.

The Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance has a few things to say about the long-term trend in Virginia’s most populous locality:

On March 9, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, which is deciding on next year’s county budget, advertised a 4.25% real estate tax hike, which would cost the average homeowner $293.

This continues a two-decade trend where the supervisors have increased real estate taxes three times faster than homeowner income, which has barely kept up with inflation. The average homeowner real estate tax next year would be $7,200. If real estate taxes had increased at the same pace as inflation since 2000, the average tax would be $3,800.

The $293 increase would be the largest real estate tax hike in five years.

It is easy for the supervisors to mislead taxpayers about real estate taxes. In his March 9, 2021, newsletter, county chairman Jeffrey McKay (D-At-Large) stated that the advertised real estate tax rate for next year is $1.15 per $100 of your home’s assessed value, the same as this year’s rate. While he acknowledged “… that many residents’ assessments are on the rise …,” he did not acknowledge that the average increase in residential assessments is 4.25%. While many homeowners will have tax hikes of 4% or more and others less depending on their individual assessments, most will have a tax increase, and the average increase will be 4.25%.

Virginia, love it or leave it.

More and more people are deciding they’ll leave it.


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19 responses to “Fairfax County Should Be Renamed Fairtax County… Er, Make that Unfairtax County”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    so is it: ” “That government is best which governs the least.” or “The government closest to the people serves the people best.”

    1. WayneS Avatar

      it’s not an either/or.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar


    2. tmtfairfax Avatar

      Fairfax County’s government is crap. It has evaluated the need for, and effectiveness of, its programs and operations twice in the last 10 years or so. But the evaluation was done by the very employees that run the programs under evaluation. It makes a mockery of the review process.

      Most recently, the County stripped residents of the right to have a hearing when an individual creates an additional living unit on the premises while removing the requirement for a resident to be over 54 or have a disability. And, of course, Fairfax County has a poor record at enforcing occupancy laws. The County also expanded the right to operate home-based businesses even when the dwelling is on septic and well water.

      The Schools failed to open distance learning last spring until 6 weeks later than surrounding jurisdictions because FCPS failed to update its software for three years. The Schools spent millions on a failed effort to assist low-income and minority students gain entry into TJ. Despite many private and public schools offering 5-day, in-person instruction, FCPS can only offer 2-day.

      Both the County and the Schools offer two pension programs for employees, with both extra plans having massive underfunding liabilities.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        I actually see Fairfaxs approach to allowing more units as a good thing that provides more affordable housing AND helps owners deal with their property taxes better.

        Home office is also fine as long as it is just an office and doesn’t have lots of clients that need parking and water/septic.

        In the end, yes some folks will leave – retirees will for cheaper taxes and less hellhole and others will become commuters… but Fairfax is a veritable land of opportunity as compared to, say SW Va in terms of jobs and economic opportunity in general

        Most folks who need a job are going to go to where the jobs are and NoVa is chock-a-block in jobs. There are many places without.

        As retirees leave, land will be better reallocated for use rather than locked up NIMBY.

        1. tmtfairfax Avatar

          There is no evidence that ALUs (auxiliary housing units) constitute affordable housing. There is no requirement that the units are rented at affordable rates. And with the County’s abysmal record on Code Enforcement, these units will mess up neighborhoods. It’s some of the supervisors wanting to be viewed as Woke.

  2. Baconator with extra cheese Avatar
    Baconator with extra cheese

    Real estate taxes are another throw back to a Jim Crow type mindset that is nothing more than a tool of white supremacy to keep Black citizens from owning homes!
    It’s a fact that increased real estate assessments disproportionately impact lower income Virginians, often BIPOC Virginians, thus they are systemically racist. Thus the real estate assessor’s office in each locality is working for white supremacy.
    I love being woke! You can make this argument work in almost any way!

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      If true, then there should be lower tax rates for blacks?

      1. WayneS Avatar

        There should be a lower tax rate for everybody.

    2. Bw/EC — you are SO RIGHT. That’s my new strategy – find the white supremacist, racist component in everything and attack it as such….. the Conservatives need to learn this lesson too…….. Obama is white supremacist now for his deportation of criminal foreigners and attacking Muslim dictators of color.

  3. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    Had to do some hunting to find this about Henrico County: “The county’s real estate tax rate has remained unchanged at 87 cents per $100 of assessed value for the past 43 years. While the tax rate remains the same, the average Henrico home rose 4.7% in value, to $290,600 from $276,800, meaning the property owner would pay about $120 more on an annual real estate tax bill.” So the RTD reporter at least mentioned both sides of the equation.

    Now, a townhouse unit behind us just went on the market with a
    fabulously aggressive price — let’s see if they get it. Our little shack is now assessed 23% higher than when we bought it 18 months ago. But the $900 more that costs me is not a tax increase by “official” standards, right? Right….

    1. Did you check your Henrico real estate assessment? As I recall, ours was up about 10% or so.

      1. Stephen Haner Avatar
        Stephen Haner

        Yep, I had the letter in my hand. Big jump was ’19 to ’20, and another 9% or so ’20 to ’21. But the supervisor seeking a new term will brag, no tax hikes!!

  4. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    It might be a mistake to leave a real estate market where your investment is increasing steadily in value because your tax on this increase in value is also increasing at the same rate. But if you think that is for the best, it’s a free country.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Yes, yes. Revolt against capital gains taxes! Sell your Apple and buy IBM.

  5. When I sold my house and left the ‘Occupied Territories’ I had to pay the county a ‘Commuter Tax’ of $2,000….. i said ‘I’m leaving the county, shouldn’t the buyer pay this?’

    Never looked back after moving to the real Virginia again.

  6. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    Let’s look at the logic in this argument that, if the tax rate remains the same while the assessment goes up, resulting in the owner paying more in taxes, then the owner has been subjected to a tax increase. Using that logic, almost everyone is subject to a “tax increase” at many points. If you earn more money this year than last, you have to pay more in income taxes. Does that mean a “tax increase” has been imposed? If the pound of ground beef you buy today costs more than it did a year ago, you will have to pay more in sales tax. Is that a “tax increase” in the sales tax?

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      I always considered paying more taxes as a sign of increased value or getting ahead, but then, I’m strange like that. If my income taxes, given same tax-rate, are more this year than last, so is my disposable income.

      A minor change in the tax forms could make a bunch of people feel better about taxes. Reduce the tax tables from $100,000 to $50,000 before requiring the formula. I still remember how cool it was when my taxable income broke out of the tables.

  7. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Tax Freedom Day is April 16th this year, unless of course, you’re in the top 1% in which case it was somewhere back in February.

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