Prince William County should delay collecting personal property taxes because of the federal government shutdown and the furlough of thousands of federal workers, Supervisor W.S. Covington III said Thursday.
Also on Thursday, state Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William) asked Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) to call a special session of the General Assembly to provide relief to Virginians during the shutdown.
Covington (R-Brentsville) asked supervisors to support emergency legislation that would allow Prince William to delay the collection of personal property taxes, also known as the car tax, assessed by localities statewide. Those taxes were officially due Saturday, but county residents have until Monday to pay them without penalty. Real estate taxes are not due in full until January.
The Board of County Supervisors is expected to take up the measure at its regular meeting Tuesday.
“I wish I’d thought of it last week, but it’s a response to the number of phone calls we were starting to get,” Covington said. “I’m trying to do something, but there’s no way to get it before the deadline.”
About 45,000 county residents are federal workers, Prince William demographer Bill Vaughan said.
Marshall said relief should be statewide while the shutdown persists. He would like to offer legislation instructing Virginia courts not to process any claims for debt collection of any kind. Further, the General Assembly should ask the Virginia State Corporation Commission to ensure that utilities remain on during the shutdown, even if customers are late with their payments, Marshall said.
“It’s unfair for Virginia residents to be pawns for whatever they’re doing or not doing in D.C.,” Marshall said.
McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said the governor has no plans to call a special legislative session.
Covington said that because the taxes are due at a time when the government could remain shut down, the county should seek to give relief to those who can’t pay. State law allows the county to extend the deadline for up to 90 days.
Covington said his office has received numerous phone calls expressing anxiety about the tax payment. The car tax can be more than $1,000 for some residents, Covington said.