Real Estate Assessments & Taxes

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: DTA is open 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For your convenience, our full service counter is open until 6:30 p.m. on Thursdays for walk-in customers.

703-222-8234
TTY 711

12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 357
Fairfax, VA 22035

Howard Goodie,
Division Director

Definitions of Real Estate Assessment & Tax Terms

An Appraisal is a detailed single property valuation that may be obtained any time throughout the year. Appraisals can have a variety of purposes, such as a mortgage loan, sale, home equity loan, or estate valuations.

The Assessed Value of property is the value for tax purposes and takes comparable home sales and inspections into consideration. See Understanding Real Estate Assessments for more information.

An Assessment is a mass appraisal of property as of January 1 each year for tax purposes. Assessments are based on large numbers of sales that are analyzed to determine values for large groups of similar properties. See Understanding Real Estate Assessments for more information.

Consideration is that which is received by the seller in exchange for his or her property. This is usually money, but can include anything of value.

A Deed is an instrument that transfers legal ownership of real property from one owner to another. Transfers of real property must be in writing and notarized. Deeds should be recorded in the county where the property is located.

Deed Restrictions are clauses in a deed limiting the future uses of the property.

Easement is a right to use the land of another for a specific purpose, such as for a right-of-way or utilities. An easement appurtenant passes with the land when conveyed.

Improvements are immovable items permanently affixed to and becoming part of the real estate. They are generally synonymous with the main dwelling building value, but also include real estate fixtures like patios, sheds, and swimming pools.

Land is defined as the surface of the earth together with everything under its boundaries and everything over it.

Market Value is the most probable price that a given property might bring in an open market transaction, given appropriate exposure and assuming both parties are generally well-informed and neither is under undue duress. Or, in plain English, “It’s the price that a buyer is willing to pay and that a seller is willing to accept.”

Parcel is a specific tract of real estate defined by a legal description and used for taxing purposes, among others.

Proration is to make an arrangement by dividing proportionally. In this case, when major improvements are made to a property where the resultant tax liability is significant, a bill can be generated using a prorated portion of the year. The tax amount would be the full amount due, multiplied by the fraction of the year in which the improvements are complete. See Supplemental Tax Bill, below.

Personal Property is defined as any property that is not real property.

Real Property consists of the interest, benefits, and rights inherent in the ownership of land and anything permanently attached to the land or legally defined as immovable.

Sale Price is the actual price a buyer pays for a particular property.

Supplemental Tax Bill is a tax bill generated when value changes during the year (usually from permitted changes to improvements) by $50,000 or more subsequent to the general January 1 assessment. The extra tax is due for the portion of the year after this change is complete. For example, if a new family room and kitchen addition is built and completed on June 15, a supplemental bill would be sent based on the remainder of the year and the total value added.

Tax Rate is the ratio at which the value of the property is taxed. It is generally expressed as an amount per $100 of assessed value. For example: $1.13 per $100 of value.


More property assessment terms from the IAAO.