Car Tax - Frequently Asked Questions


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How is my property tax calculated?

The current tax rate is $4.57 per $100 of assessed value. To compute the tax on an item assessed at $5,000, divide the assessed value by 100 and multiply by the tax rate:

($5,000 ÷ 100) x $4.57 = $228.50


Are there exceptions to the tax rate?

Yes. The following are currently taxed at a rate of one cent per $100: antique automobiles with antique or permanent vintage license plates, certified van pool vehicles, vehicles equipped for the transportation of persons with disabilities, some vehicles owned by members of volunteer fire and rescue squads and auxiliary police, vehicles owned by certain elderly and disabled individuals, aircraft and flight simulators, and homeowner associations furniture, office and maintenance equipment. Mobile homes are taxed at the real estate tax rate.


What if I don't receive forms in the mail?

Failure to receive forms does not exempt you from either the obligation to file or pay taxes on time. Forms may be obtained at the Government Center or by calling 703-222-8234 [TTY 711] or may be downloaded from this Web site.


How are vehicles assessed?

The Statutes which govern personal property assessments for automobiles require that the value be (1) from a recognized pricing guide, (2) applied uniformly, and (3) as of January 1 of the tax year. To meet these requirements, Fairfax County, along with most other Virginia jurisdictions, uses the January edition of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Official Used Car Guide. For more information regarding vehicle assessments, please refer to our Car Values page.


Under what conditions may an assessment be appealed?

If you believe that your vehicle has been overassessed, you may appeal the assessment. Body damage, rusting, and mileage are conditional factors for which adjustments in value are most frequently made.


How do I appeal my assessment?

If your vehicle was in less than average condition as of January 1, submit a Car Tax Appeal form along with an itemized estimate detailing the extent of damage and the cost to repair the vehicle. Other acceptable documentation would be a copy of an insurance company estimate describing the cost to repair the damage. If your appeal is for a high mileage adjustment, please attach a copy of your most recent Safety Inspection slip, vehicle repair receipt or a similar document which identifies the mileage.


When do I need to register my vehicle with the Virginia DMV? (Special Rule for out-of-state cabs)

Most vehicles have to be registered with the Virginia DMV within 30 days of purchase or establishing residency in Virginia. Contact the Virginia DMV for more information.

Note, special rules apply to out-of-state Cabs driven for personal use in Virginia but displaying out-of-state plates. For example, a vehicle may be used as a cab in DC and display DC license plates. If however, when not in service, the vehicle is normally garaged at a Virginia residence and used in Virginia for personal use, that vehicle is subject to the County's Personal Property Tax and is required to display dual license plates (i.e., it must display plates from both DC and Virginia at the same time). Personal use vehicles may be eligible for the State Car Tax Subsidy.


When do I need to register my vehicle with Fairfax County?

Vehicles that are normally garaged or parked in Fairfax County must be registered with the Fairfax County Department of Tax Administration (DTA) within 60 days of purchase or move-into the County and are subject to the Car Tax. This is a separate and additional requirement from the Virginia DMV registration. A 10% late filing penalty is charged on vehicles that are not registered within the 60-day deadline.  Vehicles must be registered with the local tax office, regardless of whether or not they are still displaying an out-of-state license plate. The legal requirement is based on where the car is normally garaged or parked. Special rules apply to certain military personnel and to certain vehicles used by full-time college students. For vehicles that have properly registered with the County for the current year, future renewal notices will be mailed to the owner in subsequent years and only need to be changed by exception (move; sold; address change).


What if my car is registered in another state and displays out-of-state license plates? (Special Rule for out-of-state cabs)

Your car must still be registered with Fairfax County within 60 days of purchase or move-in. It is subject to taxation by the Virginia locality in which it is normally garaged or parked. However, if the vehicle is improperly displaying out-of-state plates beyond the 30 registration requirement of state law, the vehicle is also subject to the County’s non-proratable $100 No Plate Tax and a penalty of $250 assessed annually.

While most vehicles located in Virginia are required to display Virginia tags, there are special rules for out-of-state cabs. For example, a vehicle may be used as a cab in DC and display DC license plates. If however, when not in service, the vehicle is normally garaged at a Virginia residence and used in Virginia for personal use, that vehicle is required to display dual license plates (i.e., it must display plates from both DC and Virginia at the same time). While such vehicles are subject to the County’s Personal Property Tax and may be eligible for the State Car Tax Subsidy, displaying dual plates will exempt the vehicle from the No Plate Tax as of January 1. Failure to display dual tags likewise makes this vehicle subject to the County’s non-proratable No Plate Tax and a penalty of $250 assessed annually. This is in addition to the County’s normal personal property tax and registration fees.


Do I need to buy a windshield decal if I live in one of the towns?

No. There is no longer any local registration decal to purchase or display; however, all town residents are still liable to pay each town's annual Local Registration Fee.

For residents of the Towns of Clifton and Herndon only, this fee will now be billed and collected for each town by the Fairfax County Department of Tax Administration (DTA) at the time that DTA collects the County's Car Tax.

Owners of vehicles normally located within the Town of Vienna will continue to pay the town's Local Registration Fee directly to the Town of Vienna.

Certain special rules for town residents may apply. Please refer to DTA's Local Registration License fee page for more information.


Do I need to register a leased vehicle with Fairfax County?

Most leasing companies require the lessee to register the vehicle with their local jurisdiction. The vehicle is registered in the name of the leasing company, and the car tax bills are sent directly to the leasing company for payment. Depending on your lease contract, the car taxes are either paid by the leasing company or the tax bill is forwarded to the lessee for payment.

Effective January 2016, vehicles leased by a qualified military service member and/or spouse will receive a 100% state Car Tax subsidy (PPTRA) as a tax credit on the first $20,000 of assessed value. The credit will be reflected on the bill, but the leased vehicle remains fully taxable on any remaining assessed value in excess of $20,000. Contact DTA to claim and document military eligibility.

You may register your leased vehicle on-line using our vehicle registration tool or download a registration form at


How do I register my vehicle for the Car Tax?

The Fairfax County Code requires owners of motor vehicles newly acquired or moved into the County to file for car taxation within 60 days, otherwise a penalty for late filing will be assessed.

You may file for the Car Tax in several ways. We recommend you perform this activity online:

  • You may file over the phone by telephoning 703-222-8234 [TTY 711]. To file by phone, you must have your temporary or permanent Virginia state registration.

What should I do if I have sold my vehicle or moved my vehicle out of Fairfax County?

In Fairfax County, the car tax on motor vehicles (cars, trucks, motorcycles, and vans) is prorated to reflect the time the vehicle was normally garaged in the County. To ensure that your motor vehicle is taxed accurately, you must notify the County when a vehicle is moved out of the County or sold. This may be done in person by visiting our office, by telephone, or by email. You may also report vehicle sales or moves online using our vehicle update tool.

If you have sold your vehicle or moved the vehicle out of the County, the following information is required: property owner name and daytime phone number; vehicle identification number (VIN), year, make, and model or Fairfax County property number (if known); and date the vehicle was sold or relocated. If the vehicle was moved out of the County, you must also provide the new address.

Upon notification that a property has been moved or sold, the Department of Tax Administration will adjust your account.

Please note that vehicles which are moved out of Fairfax County to a non-prorating Virginia jurisdiction during the tax year are not prorated. Effective July 1, 1998, vehicles registered in Virginia but normally kept out of state are also taxable by the jurisdiction where registered.


When are Car Tax payments due?

The majority of Car Tax bills are mailed in the summer and are due by October 5.

For vehicles bought or located in the County on or after July 1, bills are mailed in January of the following year and payment is due February 15

If a payment date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or County holiday, the due date is the following business day.


To whom do I make the check payable?

Checks or money orders should be made payable to "County of Fairfax."

Mail payments to:

Fairfax County Department of Tax Administration
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 223
Fairfax, VA 22035

US Postmark must be by the due date to avoid late charges.


How do I purchase property at public auction for delinquent taxes?

DTA may also sell vehicles and certain business equipment at public auction for the collection of delinquent taxes. If you have questions or would like to be added to a potential bidders list for personal property public auctions, please send your contact information to DTA's Revenue Collection Division. Vehicles and equipment currently scheduled for Public Auction.



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