Program TARGET Information
Fairfax County’s proximity to Washington DC, various military bases, prestigious universities and world headquarters for large corporations, is drawing people from all over the United States and other countries who make Fairfax their home, either on a temporary or permanent basis. With a significant number of vehicles in the county with out of state plates, Fairfax County residents are reaching out to their county government reporting vehicles in their neighborhoods with non-Virginia license plates that may be evading personal property taxation. The perception is that if a vehicle has out-of-state license plates the owner is not registering their vehicles with Virginia DMV within 30 days as required and not registering the vehicle in the jurisdiction where the vehicle is garaged. There may be instances however, where the owner of a vehicle with non-Virginia plates may be military temporarily living in Fairfax due to military order and their permanent residence is elsewhere, or students attending school from other states, or people visiting family members residing in Fairfax County.
The Target Program was implemented as a mechanism to enforce compliance of the personal property tax laws in Fairfax County. It provides our residents an effective channel to communicate with our office in reporting vehicles that may be evading personal property taxation, and an effective way to participate in the public process of ensuring everyone living in Fairfax County pays their fair share.
Our program includes:
- An online anonymous reporting portal for citizens to provide tips
- A robust research process to identify vehicles, owners and clear nexus to Fairfax County
- Two-way status communication
- An efficient IT platform allowing us to manage large volume of tips
As part of the two-way status communication, residents can check on the status
of previously reported tips online, simply by providing the license plate number of a previous tip. Status messages include:
- Pending - This is the default status message that is returned until Virginia license plate tips are matched to DMV records at least quarterly; or until out-of-state plates can be manually researched. Once the tax liability of a vehicle has been determined the status will be updated to one of the following indicators.
- Already Assessed - These are vehicles that are already on our assessment tax rolls. There are several possibilities as to why a vehicle that is already on the County tax rolls might be reported as a possible tax evader. This might simply be a timing issue. For example, between the time the vehicle was reported, and the records matched to DMV, the owner has registered the vehicle for taxation. It is also possible that the vehicle is on the tax roll as an exempt vehicle. For more information on this see the following links -
- Added to Tax File - If a tip results in a viable tax liability, the status indicator will report "Added to Tax File." This does ensure that DTA has added the vehicle to the tax roll for taxation.
This indicator also includes vehicles that have already been reported to the County for taxation, either by the owner or by weekly information sent to the County by DMV. The County already has the vehicle information for assessment. If actual registration takes place after the 60 day period, penalties and interest are charged. If the owner does not voluntarily register the vehicle for taxation, DTA will make a statutory assessment with penalties and interest and bill the owner accordingly.
- Registered in Another Va. Jurisdiction - With some exceptions, Fairfax County can only tax those vehicles that are normally garaged, docked or parked in Fairfax County. DMV lists the jurisdiction in which a vehicle is supposedly garaged. DTA automatically taxes any vehicle that is registered with a Fairfax County garage jurisdiction. Equally, vehicles registered with other local jurisdictions in DMV are taxed by those jurisdictions. At times vehicles are reported to DTA after having been seen at places such as shopping malls or driving through Fairfax. This is not enough to establish taxable situs and DMV records are a prima facie indicator as to the jurisdiction that can claim tax liability for the vehicles. If the status indicator on a given license plate tip is 'Registered in Another Jurisdiction', this means it is already registered for taxation in another Virginia locality.
At times it is possible that a vehicle should be registered with a different locality. For example, if a vehicle is registered in Loudoun County, but is in fact normally garaged or parked at a Fairfax County residence, this may be taxable in Fairfax County. If you believe this to be the case and you have information to support this claim, we would be interested in hearing from you so that further research can be conducted. If you believe this to be the case on a previously reported tip, please feel free to contact DTA at email@example.com. For more information about the legal definition of taxable situs (i.e., the determination of tax liability among different locations), see the following link to the Code of Virginia -
- Plate Not Found in DMV - These represent vehicles that have been reported to DTA, however, upon matching to the Virginia DMV or to another State's DMV, no such plate is found in state records. This can occur when a plate tip is recorded incorrectly (transposed numbers, use of a number instead of a letter- "o" v. 0, or when the license plate number is simply recorded incorrectly). This status can also occur if the reported plate has expired and been deactivated for a couple of years, in which case more information is needed in order to research the potential tax liability.
- Tax Liability Not Substantiated - This status message indicates that after researching a given license plate, a sufficient tie could not be found to Fairfax County such that the owner could be held liable for personal property taxation. This might occur for example when the license plate of an out-of-state visitor is erroneously reported for taxation. A one-time or even occasional sighting of an out-of-state license plate may not be enough to establish taxable situs with Fairfax County. For example, besides being a visitor the owner may be exempt military personnel (see link above under 'Already Assessed').
In order to research out-of-state plates, DTA reviews an array of information such as DMV records of the state of record, various tax records, and other public records. If taxable situs can be ascertained, an assessment is made and the status will be set to 'Added to Tax File.' If taxable situs cannot be established, a status of 'Tax Liability Not Substantiated' will be returned.
If you receive a 'Tax Liability Not Substantiated' message and you continue to see the vehicle regularly parked in Fairfax County, please e-mail this information to firstname.lastname@example.org for follow-up research.
- Rental Vehicle - These vehicles are subject to a daily rental property tax and therefore are not assessed personal property taxes based on the fair market value of vehicles.
- No Owner Information - In order to complete an investigation and make an assessment, the Department of Tax Administration (DTA) must be able to identify a vehicle and vehicle owner. "No Owner Information" means that the necessary information is not immediately available from the DMV for the state reported. In every case however, DTA has contacted the state DMV requesting this information. If the information becomes available at a later date, our system and the associated reporting classification will be updated accordingly. If you know the name and address of the owner for a given vehicle reported, you may also provide this information for additional research to the Department of Tax Administration at email@example.com.