Tax Assessment Appeals Affected — How Much? (Virginia General Assembly 2011)


The Virginia General Assembly adjourned on Sunday, and during its 2011 session, considered, amended, killed and/or adopted thousands of pieces of legislation, plus the Virginia budget.

During the session, the state legislature adopted some important changes in the law affecting local governments. Over the coming weeks, I will be touching on some of the most significant bills. In this post, I’ll discuss HB 1588 (and its companion, SB 1350), which will change the manner in which tax appeals are handled effective for tax year 2012.

Tax assessment cases have always been difficult for taxpayers to win. Some form of manifest error must be shown, the taxpayer bears the burden of proof, and a mere difference of opinion is insufficient to prevail. The law in this regard has mostly been well-settled. For a discussion of much of the law in this area, see the previous blog post on TB Venture LLC v. Arlington County and the three-part series of posts on West Creek Associates v. Goochland County: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

In the 2011 General Assembly session, an attempt was made to change the tax appeal procedure and burdens on taxpayers. Early versions of HB 1588 and SB1350 would have even completely shifted the burden of proof from the taxpayer to the locality. (If successful, these early versions would have resulted in the only lawsuits in America in which the plaintiff would have had absolutely no burden!)

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