Vehicle Personal Property Tax
Any motor vehicle normally garaged, stored, or parked in the county or on a United States military base within the geographic boundaries of the county, including Fort Belvoir, and registered in this state or any other jurisdiction must be registered with Fairfax County.
Vehicles owned by full-time active duty service members who are absent from their state of residence or domicile may be exempted from local taxation upon application to the Department of Tax Administration. A qualifying spouse who shares a domicile with an exempt military service member and who resides in Fairfax County in order to live with the service member may also qualify for exemption under the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act (MSRRA, Public Law No. 111-97) , whether the vehicle is co-owned with the service member or owned individually by the spouse. Proof of domicile is required.
Documentation is required
- If vehicle(s) is owned solely by the service member:
- Current military Leave and Earnings Statement (LES)
- If the vehicle(s) is owned or co-owned by the Spouse:
- Service member’s current LES
- Dependent military ID
- Proof that the spouse’s legal domicile is the same as in the service member’s LES, which could be one of the following: voter registration, driver’s license, state income tax return, or marriage license/certificate.
All military personnel and their family members living in Fairfax County, including Fort Belvoir, must register their vehicles within 60 days of purchasing or bringing the vehicle into Fairfax County.
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.
Fort Belvoir - Taxation of Fairfax Military/Situs
Fairfax County has general taxing authority with respect to property not belonging to the United States, but otherwise located at Fort Belvoir. Fairfax County CAN tax the personal property of service members domiciled in Virginia who reside on Fort Belvoir military base in accordance with situs provisions of the (Code of Virginia, Section 58.1-3511).
For military personnel, taxation is controlled by the federal Service Members’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA) which states that:
- An active duty service member here on military orders who maintains domicile in another state is exempt from Fairfax County's personal property tax, regardless of whether a similar tax is paid within the state of domicile.
- Military personnel who claim Virginia as their state of domicile are subject to Fairfax County’s personal property tax based on the normal situs rules. The car is taxable if:
- it is normally garaged, docked or parked in the county, or
- it is garaged in another state, but maintains a Fairfax County registration in the Virginia DMV (Code of Virginia, Section 58.1-3511)
For military spouses, Military Spouses Residency Relief Act (Public Law No. 111-97) provides relief under certain circumstances.
PL 111-97 says that the spouse of qualified military personnel can also benefit from local tax exemption, when the four eligibility requirements are met. The spouse of an active duty service member who maintains domicile in another state and is stationed here on military orders can be exempt from personal property taxation when the spouse:
- Currently resides in Virginia, but maintains the same domicile as the service member’s LES
- Resides in Fairfax County solely in order to live with the qualifying service member
- The active duty service member is here in compliance with military orders
- The spouse and service member are both able to claim the same state of domicile. The law does not simply permit a non-military spouse to choose a state of legal domicile in order to benefit from a tax exemption.
Both the qualifying military service member and the spouse must have the same domicile and provide evidence. Evidence of domicile includes documents such as property ownership, voter registration, driver’s license, and income tax filings. A military service member’s LES will show their state of domicile. Military spouses are also issued a military ID card that identifies the card-holder as a spouse, but it does not identify the spouse’s domicile; therefore, separate evidence of domicile will be required for military spouses before an exemption can be granted.
- Under Virginia law the burden of proof is on the one claiming an exemption. As noted by the Federation of Tax Administrators:
- The spouse does not inherit the domicile of the service member upon marriage.
- The spouse cannot simply adopt the domicile of their choice.
- The spouse must be able to document when and how they established domicile.
- At a minimum, the spouse must have lived in a state before claiming it as a domicile. A spouse who has never lived in State X cannot simply claim it as their domicile for tax exemption purposes.
Loss of exemption
- Everyday scenarios may cause the spouse to lose his or her tax exemption under PL 111-97. These scenarios include:
- Service member leaves the service
- Voluntary physical separation due to duty changes--i.e., orders move the service member to a location outside the state where the spouse is allowed to join the service member, but chooses not to do so. (This DOES NOT include service member’s deployment to a war zone or other location where the spouse is not allowed to follow. The military treats this as a “travel” or “TDY” situation; the service member’s orders do not change).
- Spouse commits an action that clearly establishes the state of residence as the state of domicile. Such actions would include filing a local court action, like a claim for divorce, accepting in-state tuition, voting locally, and, possibly, filing Virginia income taxes.
Military Resources and Assistance provided by the Pentagon Army and Air Force legal Assistance Office
- If a service member assigned to Pensacola, Florida, marries, and the spouse lives in and establishes domicile in Florida, then both may retain Florida domicile when they are later stationed under military orders in Fairfax, Virginia. Neither would be subject to our personal property tax while here on military orders.
- Likewise, if the couple met and married in Virginia, the military Floridian would be exempt from the personal property tax; but, the Virginia spouse would not be able to claim an exemption under PL 111-97, because the physical presence and intent tests for domicile have not been met.
- A military service member with a Florida domicile is stationed in Texas. The service member marries in Texas, but the spouse did not live in Florida and previously claimed Texas as domicile. Both move to Fairfax, Virginia on the service member’s new military orders. The spouse cannot now claim Florida as being their joint domicile. The Military Spouse’s Residency Act does not allow the spouse to simply pick a state of domicile for tax exemption purposes. In this example, any vehicles owned by or co-owned with the spouse would be subject to the Fairfax County personal property tax.