Finding Answers on Assessments, Budget

Thursday, March 6, 2008

County Executive Anthony H. Griffin has submitted a proposed budget of $3.3 billion for fiscal 2009, with the tax rate remaining at 89 cents for each $100 of valuation.

The county has issued a timeline for budget action, set meeting dates, times and places, and put information online. The timeline, schedule and other details are at

You can also request a presentation from the county staff for your community or ask to speak at one of the public meetings.

Here are some common questions about assessments, on which homeowners' tax bills are based:

Q What are the differences between sales prices, appraisals and assessments?

AThe sales price is the actual price a buyer pays for a property. An appraisal is a detailed valuation of a single property and can change during the year -- for instance, when a house is put on the market or when you apply for a home-equity loan. The assessment, done by Jan. 1 of each year, is the mass appraisal of all the properties in the county. The assessment is based on large numbers of sales that are analyzed to determine values for groups of similar properties for tax purposes.

What if I think the assessment that I get in the mail is unfair, or if I have other questions?

The county encourages you to call the Department of Tax Administration at 703-222-8234 to discuss any assessment question. Real estate information from the department is online at

You can use this information to determine whether your property is described correctly, to check your assessment against those of other properties in your area or to view a list of sales and figure out whether your property could be sold for at least its assessed value.

An appeal must be filed by April 4, so there is time for a review before the filing deadline for the Board of Equalization of Real Estate Assessments. For an appeal form for 2008, call the department at 703-222-8234, TTY 703-222-7594; or for Spanish, 703-324-3855.

Appeals may also be made directly to the Board of Equalization by June 2, although the county encourages property owners to file an appeal first with the tax department. The board can be reached at 703-324-4891; TTY 703-222-7594; Spanish 703-324-3855; or at its offices, Suite 331, 12000 Government Center Pkwy, Fairfax.

What if I want to address the supervisors on the budget?

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