By Michael Campbell, News Editor
11:59 a.m. | August 10, 2017
PRINCE GEORGE – Spouses of certain emergency services providers killed in the line of duty will now be eligible for property tax exemptions within the county following the board’s unanimous vote of approval last month.
Those spouses of law enforcement officers, firefighters, search and rescue personnel, or emergency medical services personnel who are currently living in the county would qualify for exemption from real property taxes.
In order for a spouse to qualify for the exemption, that person would have to file a written statement with the county’s commissioner of revenue, laying out their name, any joint owners of the property, certify that the real property in question is the spouse’s primary place of residence, along with “evidence of the determination of the Comptroller or the Virginia Retirement System” in regards to the filing.
The spouse would also need to provide documentation that verifies they are the surviving spouse of that person killed in the line of duty and the date of their death.
If the spouse moves, they would be required to re-file their exemption request with the locality and, if the spouse remarries, they must notify the county’s commissioner of revenue, as they will no longer be eligible for the tax exemption.
According to the county’s language, the real property of those surviving spouses whose loved one died on or prior to January 1, 2017, and they were living in the county at that time, their exemption would begin January 1 of this year.
If the death occurred after January 1, 2017, and the spouse had an eligible place of residence in the county at the time of their loved one’s death, the exemption would take effect on the day of that emergency services provider’s death.
Additionally, the language further explains that if the spouse acquired the property after January 1 of this year, the exemption would begin at the date of acquisition, with the previous owner possibly being eligible for a refund for a “pro rata,” or proportional, portion of real property taxes paid.
Prince George is also not liable for “any interest on any refund due to the surviving spouse for taxes paid prior to the surviving spouse’s filing of the affidavit or written statement.”
During a work session in May, county officials reported they had received only two calls from people inquiring about the exemption.
The roots of this legislation dates back to the November 2016 general election, where voters were given a pair of constitutional amendments to consider, one of which that gave localities the authority to exempt the real property of the surviving spouse of any law enforcement officers, firefighters, search and rescue personnel, or emergency medical services personnel, as long as that spouse continues to occupy said property in a given locality and hasn’t remarried.
Following its overwhelming approval by voters, with over 80 percent of the commonwealth’s voters selecting “yes” on the question, House Bill 1884 successfully made its way through the House of Delegates and State Senate before reaching Governor Terry McAuliffe’s desk to be signed into law, providing localities a framework to offer the exemptions.
The implementation of this new tax exemption follows the 2014 constitutional question that saw the surviving spouses of members of the U.S. military who were killed in action beginning granted the ability to be exempt from real property taxation, so as long as they did not remarry and such exemptions would only apply to their primary place of residence, and the 2010 question that allowed for military veterans who had a 100-percent permanent or total disability related to their military service to receive real property tax relief.
In addition, the county offers tax relief for senior citizens and totally disabled persons, surviving spouses of service members killed in action, and those totally and permanently disabled veterans or their surviving spouses.
For more information on taxes, contact the Prince George Commissioner of Revenue at 804-722-8740.