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Property tax is a tax that is imposed on ownership or possession of property and is measured by the market value of the property. In West Virginia, all real and personal property is subject to tax unless specifically exempted by law. A list of exemptions is contained in West Virginia Code §11-3-9.
State law requires county assessors to list properties and assess them at their true and actual value in money, according to the highest and best use of the property. Fair market value or true value is the amount that a willing and unobligated buyer is willing to pay a willing and unobligated seller. Occasionally, state law will require a valuation at something other than market value (such as pollution control facilities being valued at 5% of original cost). The county assessor values real property using one or more of three professional appraisal methods: Income Approach, Market Approach, and Cost Approach. Some species of property are valued by the State Tax Department, including industrial properties, natural resource properties and public utilities.
Real property includes land, improvements to land, structures, and certain equipment affixed to structures. Personal property includes furnishings, machinery and equipment, fixtures, supplies, and tools. The primary characteristic of personal property is its mobility. Personal property tax applies to personal property used when conducting business or to other personal property not exempted by law. Household goods commonly found within the house and items used to care for the house and its surrounding property are exempt. However, if these items are used for profit, personal property tax applies.
When will my property values change?
Property is to be revalued annually; however state law only requires a physical inspection of said property at least every three years. Should the appraised real property value increase in excess of ten percent each year, notification of "Notice of Increase in Assessment" is the responsibility of your local county assessor. The frequency of changes in value to your property is subject to the county's revaluation cycle and the natural resource valuation variables for ad valorem tax purposes. Should you have issues with the appraised value of your property, you are encouraged to contact your local county assessor's office.
To appeal your assessment, you must appear before the local County Commission sitting as a Board of Equalization and Review. These hearings are held annually, not later than the first day of February and not remaining in session for a period of longer than twenty days, but not adjourning before the fifteenth day of February. Should a person fail to apply for relief at this meeting, he shall have waived his right to ask for correction in his assessment for the current year and shall not thereafter be permitted to question the correctness of his property, except on appeal to the circuit court. For information concerning Review and Equalization see West Virginia Code §11-3-24 and Code §11-3-24a.
The property taxes may be paid in halves, with the first half payment due September 1st and the second half payment due by March 1st.
If I use my property for farming or to conserve natural resources, are there any tax breaks for me?
Yes and No. Land used as farms does receive a preferential treatment. However, the landowner must apply to the county assessor to receive the farm discount. Farms receive a further tax incentive in that, as long as their natural resource income doesn't exceed the farm income, the natural resources are not taxed. There is no property tax incentive for the conservation of natural resources.
We are an out-of-state business and plan to have activity in West Virginia. What do we need to do?
First and foremost, you should be registered and certified with the Secretary of State’s office as a business entity within the state of WV. For property tax purposes, you should contact the assessor of the county or counties in which you intend to do business to get on their mailing list and receive any information that they may have regarding their required assessment procedures.
How is personal property value determined?
All personal property in the state is to be valued with the exception of intangible property, furniture and household fixtures, and inventory moving through the state (not involved in a manufacturing process). All property in the state is valued using the three generally accepted approaches to value, those being cost, income and market, when applicable. For vehicles in the state, the lowest book value from NADA is recognized as market value for property tax purposes. Farm implements are exempt.
Who decides how much property tax will be?
The sheriff applies the appropriate levy rate to the assessed value, then generates the tax bills to be mailed out in mid-July every year. Taxes can be paid in halves, with payments due by September and March.
Where do I pay my property taxes?
Most pay their taxes by mail, but the sheriff's office (or satellite offices around the county) can collect the tax.
How can I reduce the amount of property tax I pay?
The amount of property tax is directly reflected by the appraised value of the property. In February, county commissioners in every county sit as a Board of Equalization and Revenue to hear protests by taxpayers who think their assessment is too high. When the county commission adjourns as a BRE in February, the tax amount is pretty much set in stone and will be reflected in tax bill to be mailed in July.