Despite the impact of job losses, deaths and sickness that swept over the nation over the last year, the housing values in Fairfax County have increased, and this will trickle down to the taxes paid by homeowners, including seniors that live on a fixed income.
The tax rate proposed by County Executive Bryan Hill is reduced from last year, but the average homeowner would still pay more because of increased home values. The Board of Supervisors won’t advertise a tax rate until March 9.
According to the county, residential real estate assessments are up an average of 4.25 percent countywide and about 88 percent of homeowners
saw an increase in their home’s value. The county says these are market-driven increases or decreases to values. Only 4.4 percent saw a decrease in value, and assessments are unchanged for the remaining 7.6 percent. This year the average assessment for all homes is $607,752, compared to $582,976 in 2020.
The southern part of Fairfax County saw the biggest assessment increases. Houses in Lee District went up the most at 6.32 percent followed by Braddock at 6.06 percent, and Mount Vernon at 5.29 percent. In the Sully District, values raised 4.6 percent, while in the Providence District there is a 3.91 percent increase, followed by a 3.67 percent increase in Hunter Mill, 2.53 percent in Dranesville and 5.3 percent in Mason.
THE ASSESSMENTS are based on the market value, and the county assesses all properties on an annual basis, using sales records as one way to determine a property’s value. If the market is hot, the housing prices go up, and eventually the taxes paid go up. According to the county, an annual real estate assessment of all real estate property ensures that they are uniformly and fairly assessing properties at their fair market value.
For example, the seniors that have paid off their mortgage will simply write a bigger check this summer when the county tax bill is due. Others who pay their county taxes as part of the escrow account will pay an increased monthly mortgage bill for 2022.
In Springfield, where the increase in housing values rose 4.89 percent, Supervisor Pat Herrity is not satisfied with the taxpayers increase at this time. The advertised county budget increase for fiscal 2022 includes a 3.4 percent increase in the tax on homeowners. “This year’s advertised budget continues to raise taxes on homeowners and is unsustainable,” Herrity said in a release.
He shared ideas though on budget items. “Instead of focusing on the pandemic response and providing tax relief to our residents, this budget includes staffing new programs and facilities. We need to be doing what our residents are having to do and figure out ways to work within our means.”
Specifically, Herrity said some reductions in the school budget could be made, and four facilities that are planned could be delayed to save the money for now. These are the South County Police Station, the Scotts Run Fire Station, and new community centers in Lee and Sully Districts. “We can defer opening these,” Herrity said. None of his proposed deferments are in his district.
The county executive’s proposed budget already provides less money for schools than the school board’s budget calls for.
HOMEOWNERS can also contest their appraisals, possibly lowering the amount of the value of their homes, and therefore the amount of their tax bill. There are two levels of appeal, the county said. The first one is an administrative appeal to the Department of Tax Administration, and the second level is to the Board of Equalization, an independent body made up of residents of Fairfax County. In 2020, DTA received 493 administrative appeals and the BOE received 69 appeals.
Herrity did note that some of the seniors in his district have moved out because of the increased taxes. “Older adults are being taxed out of Fairfax County,” Herrity said.
County residents can look for an opportunity to speak out on taxes over the next few weeks. There are public hearings about the county budget from April 13-15. A mark-up of the final budget draft is turned in on April 27 and the new budget comes out May 4.
To see where your real estate taxes are spent, visit the real estate calculator at: