Classifying to Not Tax Residential Property: Constitutional? FFW Enterprises v Fairfax County

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Constitutional issues related to classification of property for taxation were at issue in FFW Enterprises v. Fairfax County, another opinion issued by the Virginia Supreme Court on November 4, 2010.

Specifically at issue in this case was the constitutionality of two special tax levies, authorized by Virginia Code section 33.1-431, et seq and section 58.1-3221.3. Both statutes allowed special taxes to be imposed upon commercial and industrial properties, but not residential. This omission by classification was called into question by a taxpayer owning commercially-zoned property in Fairfax County.

Background

In 2004, Fairfax County created a special transportation district as authorized by Section 33.1-431, and in 2006, began to levy a special tax as authorized by Section 33.1-435 on all real property located in the district that is zoned for commercial or industrial use or used for such purposes, including property owned by the taxpayer, FFW Enterprises. Special tax revenues collected were to be used for transportation improvements within the district. Residential real property within the district is not subject to the special tax.

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