The Board of Supervisors approved a lower real estate tax rate for the surviving spouses of military service members who died in the line of duty, significantly reducing their tax bills as a result.
Lowest Tax Rate Allowed By Law
The board’s action on Tuesday establishes a tax rate for these spouses at $0.01 per $100 of assessed value which is the lowest rate allowed under the state law passed last year. This law grants local governments the option to offer a lower tax rate by creating a separate classification for real property owned by surviving spouses.
This reduced tax rate is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2022, and there is no cap on the maximum amount of reduction that may be provided.
Fairfax County is only the second jurisdiction in Virginia to enact this tax relief for surviving spouses.
Qualifications for the Lower Tax Rate
To be eligible, a surviving spouse must occupy the property as their principal residence, and they may not remarry. In addition, the late service member’s death cannot be the result of criminal conduct. To qualify, spouses must provide a line of duty determination from the U.S. Department of Defense.
Surviving spouses may also be eligible for real estate tax relief for service members killed in action on or after Jan. 1, 2015. This already existing program exempts the taxes owed up to the average assessed value of a single family dwelling, plus one acre of land.
Together, these two tax relief programs can significantly reduce the tax burden on surviving spouses, and they may receive relief under both programs, if eligible. County tax officials say that it is very difficult to determine the number of surviving spouses who would qualify for the new program, but their best estimate is that it would deliver more than $456,000 in tax relief per year.
How to Apply
To qualify, surviving spouses must fill out an application or contact the county’s tax relief office. Homeowners are still responsible for paying the full amount of their tax bill until they receive notice that relief has been officially granted. Late payments are subject to penalties and interest.
For more information, including other real estate tax relief programs, contact the Fairfax County Department of Tax Administration at 703-222-8324, TTY 711.