An aggressive two-month campaign by Arlington police and the county treasurer's department to find scofflaws who had avoided paying personal property taxes on their cars will net an estimated $800,000, according to Treasurer Francis X. O'Leary Jr.
In October and November, police ticketed 7,700 cars while members of the treasurer's office put warning fliers on an additional 944 that lacked windshield stickers showing that the tax had been paid.
The Virginia personal property tax is levied on items such as cars and boats. In Arlington, the personal property tax rate is $4.40 per $100 in automobile value, and tax bills average about $165 per car, according to the treasurer's office.
Those who try to evade the tax by registering their cars in other states or by keeping their vehicles in garages are a particular problem in a county where thousands live in high-rise buildings with underground parking.
Police and county officials must seek the permission of building managers before checking a garage or use police roadblocks to catch evaders.
In a report to the police department, O'Leary touted the collection program as having "produced a revenue windfall for Arlington County as well as an atmosphere of aggressive enforcement of our local ordinances to the citizenry of the county."
O'Leary noted that while tax delinquents tend to be poor people who cannot pay the tax bills, evaders who go to sometimes great lengths to hide their cars tend to be more affluent. "They're wealthier. They own BMWs and Cadillacs," he said.
The enforcement program has been so successful that it will be repeated soon, but exactly when is being kept a surprise.