8News Investigates: Are you paying too much on your personal property taxes?

(WRIC) — It’s that time of year: your personal property tax bill has arrived. No one likes to pay it, but are you paying more than you should?

8News investigative reporter Amanda Malkowski found out how you can pay less… and when Amanda told Chesterfield resident Katya Whitaker, she was shocked.

“My thought was just… holy cow.”

A nearly $150 personal property tax bill for Katya Whitaker’s oldest car, a 2004 Ford F-150 pickup.

“There’s the normal nicks and wear and tear. It’s kind of a basic level vehicle. No power windows, no power locks and everything.”

Chesterfield County assessed Whitaker’s car at about $6,000. However — a quick search of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) guide online {[INSET LINK HERE: nadaguides.com]} says with mileage considered, Whitaker’s F-150 is only worth about $3500.

Chesterfield County Treasurer Richard Cordle says that if you’re like Whitaker and think your bill is unfair, you can call the county to appeal your assessment.

“High mileage is one credit that the Commissioner of the Revenue’s office will consider,” Cordle told 8News.

The average American drives 12,000 miles per year. If you’re driving more, or you have cosmetic or mechanical damage, you could get a discount — one few people are taking advantage of, Henrico County Director of Finance Eugene Walter says.

“We bill about 250,000 vehicles a year. We have less than around 50 that are conditioned and maybe 200 that are high mileage. So, actually it’s a minimal amount.”

If you’re looking to appeal your assessment in any locality be sure you’re armed with:

– A state inspection or oil change receipt from close to January 1 detailing your car’s mileage.

– A quote from a body shop stating how much it would cost to bring your car back to normal condition.

It’s up to you, not the DMV, to tell the county or city about the condition of your car.

“We do not get an update yearly when cars are inspected.”

Whitaker plans to appeal her assessment, and if they change the rate to the one we found, she could end up paying half of what the county taxed her.

“We do save our money,” Whitaker says. “We do spend it wisely, so we watch where it goes also.”

If your bill went up in Chesterfield County this year, it could be because there is less state tax relief for each car this year. The county gets the same amount of financial assistance from the state each year, but the more cars that are registered, the less help each person gets on their bill. That means your bill may go up again next year, as more cars are registered in Chesterfield.

If you want to appeal your assessment, you need to act now. Here are some contacts to help you get started:

Chesterfield County

– Commissioner of the Revenue: (804) 748-1281

Appeal Information:

Henrico County

– Department of Finance Revenue Division” (804) 501-4263

Appeal Form

City of Richmond

– Finance Office: (804) 646-5700

Condition Reassessment Form

Mileage Reassessment Form

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