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County to crack down on vehicle-license tax evaders

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The Prince William Board of County Supervisors listen to a presentation during the board’s April 6 meeting. File photo.

Prince William is cracking down on residents who keep vehicles in the county with invalid, out-of-state license plates. 

County residents without Virginia license plates will now face up to $350 in new penalties and taxes under a new ordinance the Prince William Board of County Supervisors adopted on Tuesday, July 13.

The new rules impose a $100 annual license tax on vehicle owners who don't have valid state license plates and a $250 penalty on residents whose vehicles are not properly registered with Virginia plates within the first 30 days they move to the commonwealth.  

The supervisors voted 7-1 to adopt the ordinance with only Supervisor Margaret Franklin, D-Woodbridge, voting in opposition. 

"It's an administrative burden on the county and it doesn't collect a lot of money," Franklin said about the ordinance on Wednesday via text message.

The new county ordinance does not apply to residents who are allowed by Virginia law to register their vehicles in other states and retain license plates from those states, such as active-duty military members.

The county’s department of finance receives more than 100 complaints from residents annually regarding vehicles being garaged, stored or parked in Prince William County with out-of-state plates, according to county officials. The subject of how to crack down on license plate tax evaders has been a recurring topic of discussion among Prince William County supervisors for years. 

Owners of cars and trucks not properly registered in Virginia not only avoid paying the county’s $33 annual license registration fee but are also left off the county’s registry of vehicles on which personal property taxes are imposed.

“This is long overdue. We all have to play by the rules. And we have a lot of people that have been breaking the rules. I think this is a good step in the right direction,” said Supervisor Victor Angry, D-Neabsco.  

The board established a new county tax evader program as part of the county’s fiscal year 2022 budget, which took effect on July 1. But without adopting an accompanying ordinance, the county did not have authority to assess the license plate tax and related penalty. 

The counties of Fairfax, Loudoun and Arlington and the City of Alexandria have all adopted similar ordinances allowing them the authority to impose a license plate tax and penalty on local residents.  

County officials have not yet detailed how the county will notify residents of suspected invalid, out-of-state license plates or the process by which fines will be levied.

Reach Daniel Berti at dberti@fauquier.com

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