Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 58.1. Taxation
Chapter 32. Real Property Tax
11/28/2020

Article 14. Boards of Equalization.

§ 58.1-3370. Appointment.

A. The circuit court having jurisdiction within each city and each county other than those counties operating under § 58.1-3371 shall, in each tax year immediately following the year a general reassessment or annual or biennial assessment is conducted in such city or county, appoint for such city or county a board of equalization of real estate assessments, unless such county or city has a permanent board of equalization appointed according to law. In addition, at the request of the local governing body, the circuit court may appoint alternate members as provided in subsection B of § 58.1-3373, and the provisions of that subsection shall apply mutatis mutandis.

B. The term of any board of equalization appointed under the authority of this section shall expire one year after the effective date of the assessment for which it was appointed. However, if a taxpayer applies to the commissioner of the revenue or other official performing the duties imposed on commissioners of the revenue for relief from a real property tax assessment prior to the expiration of the board of equalization's term, and the term of the board of equalization expires prior to a final determination on such application for relief, and the taxpayer advises the circuit court that he wishes to appeal the determination to the board of equalization, then the circuit court may reappoint the board of equalization to hear and act on such appeal.

Code 1950, § 58-895; 1975, c. 575; 1979, c. 577; 1983, c. 304; 1984, cc. 273, 675; 1991, c. 240; 2014, c. 19; 2018, c. 604.

§ 58.1-3371. Appointment in counties with county executive or county manager form of government.

Unless the county has a permanent board of equalization appointed according to law, the board of supervisors or other governing body of any county operating under the county executive form of government, or the county manager form of organization and government provided for in Chapter 5 (§ 15.2-500 et seq.) or Chapter 6 (§ 15.2-600 et seq.) of Title 15.2, shall for the year following any year a general reassessment or annual or biennial assessment is conducted create and appoint for the county a board of equalization of real estate assessments. For any county operating under the county executive form of government, the board shall be composed of not less than three nor more than the number of districts for the election of members of the board of supervisors in the county. In addition to such members, at the request of the local governing body, the circuit court for the locality may appoint not more than two alternate members. The qualifications, terms, and compensation of alternate members shall be the same as those of regular members. A regular member when he knows he will be absent from or will have to abstain from any proceeding at a meeting shall notify the chairman of the board of equalization at least 24 hours prior to the meeting of such fact. The chairman may select an alternate to serve in the absent or abstaining member's place and the records of the board shall so note. Such alternate member may vote on any proceeding in which a regular member is absent or abstains. A regular member shall have the right to apply to the board of equalization for relief the same as any other taxpayer. If a regular member applies for relief, and one or more alternate members has been appointed pursuant to this section, then the chairman shall appoint an alternate member to hear and vote on such regular member's application for relief. If the chairman applies for relief, then the vice chairman shall appoint an alternate member to hear and vote on the chairman's application for relief.

The terms of the regular and alternate members of any board so appointed shall expire on December 31 of the year in which they are appointed. Members of any board shall have the qualifications prescribed by § 58.1-3374 and shall conduct their business as required by § 58.1-3378.

Code 1950, § 58-897; 1950, p. 851; 1979, c. 577; 1983, c. 304; 1984, c. 675; 1995, c. 24; 2011, c. 10; 2014, c. 19.

§ 58.1-3372. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1985, c. 62.

§ 58.1-3373. Permanent board of equalization.

A. Any county or city which uses the annual assessment method or the biennial assessment method authorized under § 58.1-3253 in lieu of periodic general assessments, may elect to create a permanent board of equalization in lieu of the board of equalization required under §§ 58.1-3370 and 58.1-3371. Such board shall consist of three or five members to be appointed by the circuit court of such county or city, or the circuit court having jurisdiction within such city, as follows: In the case of a three-member board, one member shall be appointed for a term of one year, one member shall be appointed for a term of two years, and one member shall be appointed for a term of three years. In the case of a five-member board, one member shall be appointed for a one-year term, one member shall be appointed for a two-year term, and three members shall be appointed for a three-year term. However, for any county operating under the county executive form of government, the number of members of the permanent board of equalization shall be no less than three nor more than the number of districts for the election of members of the board of supervisors in the county, and the members of the permanent board of equalization shall be appointed by the circuit court of such county for three-year terms. As the terms of the initial appointees expire, their successors shall be appointed for terms of three years. Members of such boards shall have the qualifications prescribed by § 58.1-3374, and shall conduct their business as required by § 58.1-3378. The compensation of the members of any such boards shall be fixed by the governing body.

B. In addition to regular members appointed under subsection A, at the request of the local governing body, the circuit court for any locality may appoint one alternate member in the case of a three-member board and two alternate members in the case of a five-member board. The qualifications and compensation of alternate members shall be the same as those of regular members. In the case of a three-member board, the alternate shall be appointed for a two-year term. In the case of a five-member board, one alternate shall be appointed for a term of one year and one alternate shall be appointed for a term of two years. Thereafter, the terms for alternate members of five-member boards shall be for three-year terms.

A regular member when he knows he will be absent from or will have to abstain from any proceeding at a meeting shall notify the chairman of the board of equalization at least 24 hours prior to the meeting of such fact. The chairman may select an alternate to serve in the absent or abstaining member's place and the records of the board shall so note. Such alternate member may vote on any proceeding in which a regular member is absent or abstains. A regular member shall have the right to apply to the board of equalization for relief the same as any other taxpayer. If a regular member applies for relief, and one or more alternate members has been appointed pursuant to this section, then the chairman shall appoint an alternate member to hear and vote on such regular member's application for relief. If the chairman applies for relief, then the vice chairman shall appoint an alternate member to hear and vote on the chairman's application for relief.

C. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections A and B concerning appointment of members and alternate members by the circuit court, the board of supervisors of Loudoun County may elect to appoint the members and alternate members of its board of equalization of real estate assessments.

Code 1950, § 58-898.1; 1979, c. 577; 1984, c. 675; 1989, c. 390; 1995, c. 24; 2011, c. 10; 2013, c. 548; 2014, c. 19.

§ 58.1-3373.1. City may elect to provide for board of equalization.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the City of Richmond may by ordinance elect to provide for a board of equalization or permanent board of equalization as provided in this article instead of a board of review.

2014, cc. 61, 607.

§ 58.1-3374. Qualifications of members; vacancies.

Except as provided in § 58.1-3371 or 58.1-3373, every board of equalization shall be composed of not less than three members nor more than five members or the number of local election districts in the locality, whichever is greater. In addition to such regular members, at the request of the local governing body, the circuit court for any locality shall appoint one alternate member in the case of a board with less than five members, and two alternate members in the case of a board with five or more members. The qualifications, terms and compensation of alternate members shall be the same as those of regular members. A regular member when he knows he will be absent from or will have to abstain from any proceeding at a meeting shall notify the chairman of the board of equalization at least 24 hours prior to the meeting of such fact. The chairman may select an alternate to serve in the absent or abstaining member's place and the records of the board shall so note. Such alternate member may vote on any proceeding in which a regular member is absent or abstains.

All members of every board of equalization, including alternate members, shall be residents, a majority of whom shall be freeholders, in the county or city for which they are to serve and shall be selected from the citizens of the county or city. Appointments to the board of equalization shall be broadly representative of the community. Thirty percent of the members of the board shall be commercial or residential real estate appraisers, other real estate professionals, builders, developers, or legal or financial professionals, and at least one such member shall sit in all cases involving commercial, industrial or multi-family residential property, unless waived by the taxpayer. No member of the board of assessors shall be eligible for appointment to the board of equalization for the same reassessment. In order to be eligible for appointment, each prospective member of such board shall attend and participate in the basic course of instruction given by the Department of Taxation under § 58.1-206. In addition, at least once in every four years of service on a board of equalization, each member of a board of equalization shall take continuing education instruction provided by the Tax Commissioner pursuant to § 58.1-206. Any vacancy occurring on any board of equalization shall be filled for the unexpired term by the authority making the original appointment.

On any board or panel thereof considering appeals of commercial or multi-family residential property in a locality with a population exceeding 100,000, 30 percent of the members of such board or panel shall be commercial or multi-family residential real estate appraisers who are licensed and certified by the Virginia Real Estate Appraiser Board to serve as general real estate appraisers, other commercial or multi-family real estate professionals or licensed commercial or multi-family real estate brokers, builders, developers, active or retired members of the Virginia State Bar, or other legal or financial professionals whose area of practice requires or required knowledge of the valuation of property, real estate transactions, building costs, accounting, finance, or statistics. For the purposes of this section, commercial or multi-family residential property shall be defined as any property that is either operated as or zoned for use as commercial, industrial or multi-family residential rental property.

Code 1950, § 58-899; 1979, c. 577; 1983, c. 304; 1984, c. 675; 1995, c. 24; 2003, c. 1036; 2009, c. 25; 2010, c. 552; 2011, c. 10; 2013, c. 197; 2016, c. 38.

§ 58.1-3375. Compensation of members.

The members of every board of equalization shall receive compensation, for time actually engaged in the duties of the board, to be fixed by the governing body of the county or city and paid out of the local treasury. The governing body of every county and of every city may limit the compensation to such number of days as in its opinion is sufficient for the completion of the work of the board.

Code 1950, § 58-900; 1984, c. 675.

§ 58.1-3376. Organization and assistants; legal assistance.

A. Every board of equalization shall elect one of its members as chairman and another as secretary, and may employ necessary clerical and other assistants and call in advisors and fix their compensation, subject to the approval of the governing body of the county or city, to be paid out of the local treasury.

B. In any city with a population of more than 100,000, when the board of equalization, in fulfilling its functions, desires legal advice, the board shall request such advice from the attorney for the city or county for which they were appointed.

Notwithstanding any contrary provision of law, general or special, such attorney shall in a timely manner give his advice to the board.

If there is no such attorney or the attorney has a conflict, the board shall make a written request to the city or county governing body to employ an attorney to advise the board. The governing body shall respond in writing within ten days from receipt of such request.

If the governing body refuses to honor the board's request, then the board shall apply to the circuit court that appointed it. The judge of such circuit court may authorize the employment of an attorney to advise the board and order that the attorney be paid out of the local treasury.

Code 1950, § 58-901; 1984, c. 675; 1994, c. 509.

§ 58.1-3377. Use of land books.

Every board of equalization for a county not having a general reassessment of real estate shall procure for its use from the clerk of the circuit court of the county the copy of the land book on file in his office for the current year if available, otherwise for the preceding year, and the board shall return the land book to the clerk upon the completion of its work. Every board of equalization for a city having need of a copy of the land book for any year shall procure an existing copy if available for the purpose; otherwise the governing body of the city shall cause a new copy to be made and furnished the board at the expense of the city.

Code 1950, § 58-902; 1984, c. 675.

§ 58.1-3378. Sittings; notices thereof.

Each board of equalization shall sit at and for such time or times as may be necessary to discharge the duties imposed and to exercise the powers conferred by this chapter. Of each sitting public notice shall be given at least 10 days beforehand by publication in a newspaper having general circulation in the county or city and, in a county, also by posting the notice at the courthouse and at each public library, voting precinct or both. Such posting shall be done by the sheriff or his deputy. Such notice shall inform the public that the board shall sit at the place or places and on the days named therein for the purpose of equalizing real estate assessments in such county or city and for the purpose of hearing complaints of inequalities wherein the property owners allege a lack of uniformity in assessment, or errors in acreage in such real estate assessments. The board also shall hear complaints that real property is assessed at more than fair market value. Except as otherwise provided by the Code of Virginia:

1. The fair market value of real property shall be established by the board as of January 1 of the applicable year; or

2. If a county or city has adopted July 1 as its tax day for real property pursuant to § 58.1-3011, then, for other than public service corporation property, the fair market value of real property shall be established by the board as of July 1 of the applicable year.

The governing body of any county or city may provide by ordinance the date by which applications must be made by property owners or lessees for relief. Such date shall not be earlier than 30 days after the termination of the date set by the assessing officer to hear objections to the assessments as provided in § 58.1-3330. If no applications for relief are received by such date, the board of equalization shall be deemed to have discharged its duties. Such governing body may also provide by ordinance the deadline by which all applications must be finally disposed of by the board of equalization. All such deadlines shall be clearly stated on the notice of assessment. Notwithstanding such deadlines, if a taxpayer applies to the commissioner of the revenue or other official performing the duties imposed on commissioners of the revenue for relief from a real property tax assessment prior to such deadlines, and such deadlines occur prior to a final determination on such application for relief, and the taxpayer advises the circuit court that he wishes to appeal the determination to the board of equalization, then the circuit court may require the board of equalization to hear and act on such appeal. The governing body may provide for applications for relief to be made electronically; however, taxpayers retain the right to file applications on traditional paper forms provided by the governing body as long as such forms are submitted prior to the established deadline. If such paper forms are mailed by the applicant, the postmark date shall be considered the date of receipt by the governing body. A hearing for relief before the board of equalization regarding an assessment on residential property shall not be denied on the basis of a lack of information on the application for relief, as long as the application includes the address, the parcel number, and the owner's proposed assessed value for the property. If the application for relief is sent electronically, the date the applicant sends the application shall be considered the date of receipt by the governing body. The application is considered sent when it meets the requirements of subsection (a) of § 59.1-493. A hearing for relief before the board of equalization regarding an assessment on commercial, multi-family residential, or industrial property on the basis of fair market value shall not be denied on the basis of a lack of information on the application, as long as documentation of any applicable assessment methodologies is submitted with the application, and the application includes the address, the parcel number, and the owner's proposed assessed value for the property.

Code 1950, § 58-903; 1976, c. 679; 1983, c. 304; 1984, c. 675; 1989, c. 300; 2000, c. 383; 2003, c. 1036; 2013, c. 197; 2018, cc. 341, 604.

§ 58.1-3379. Hearing complaints and equalizing assessments.

A. The board shall hear and give consideration to such complaints and shall adjust and equalize such assessments and shall, moreover, be charged with the especial duty of increasing as well as decreasing assessments, whether specific complaint be laid or not, if in its judgment, the same be necessary to equalize and accomplish the end that the burden of taxation shall rest equally upon all citizens of such county or city.

B. In all cases brought before the board, there shall be a presumption that the valuation determined by the assessor is correct. The burden of proof on appeal to the board shall be on the taxpayer to rebut the presumption and show by a preponderance of the evidence that the property in question is valued at more than its fair market value or that the assessment is not uniform in its application and that it was not arrived at in accordance with generally accepted appraisal practices, procedures, rules, and standards as prescribed by nationally recognized professional appraisal organizations such as the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) and applicable Virginia law relating to valuation of property. Mistakes of fact, including computation, that affect the assessment shall be deemed not to be in accordance with generally accepted appraisal practice.

However, in any appeal of the assessment of residential property filed by a taxpayer as an owner of real property containing less than four residential units, the assessing officer shall give the required written notice to the taxpayer, or his duly authorized representative, under subsection E of § 58.1-3331, and, upon written request, shall provide the taxpayer or his duly authorized representative copies of the assessment records set out in subsections A, B, and C of § 58.1-3331 pertaining to the assessing officer's determination of fair market value of the property under appeal. The assessing officer shall provide such records within 15 days of a written request by the taxpayer or his duly authorized representative. If the assessing officer fails to do so, the assessing officer shall present the following into evidence prior to the presentation of evidence by the taxpayer at the hearing: (i) copies of the assessment records maintained by the assessing officer under § 58.1-3331, (ii) testimony that explains the methodologies employed by the assessing officer to determine the assessed value of the property, and (iii) testimony that states that the assessed value was arrived at in accordance with generally accepted appraisal practices, procedures, rules, and standards as prescribed by nationally recognized professional appraisal organizations such as the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) and applicable Virginia law regarding the valuation of property. Upon the conclusion of the presentation of the evidence of the assessing officer, the taxpayer shall have the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence to rebut such evidence presented by the assessing officer as otherwise provided in this section.

C. In considering complaints, nothing shall be construed to prohibit consideration of any statement of income and expense or market sales that occurred through December 31, prior to the effective date of the assessment, so long as such information is submitted to the board no later than the locality's deadline for the application for relief. No studies or analyses published after December 31 immediately preceding the effective date of the assessment shall be considered in an appeal filed relating to that assessment.

D. In any case before the board concerning a taxpayer's complaint in which the commissioner of the revenue or other local assessing officer requests the board to increase the assessment after the taxpayer files an appeal to the board on a commercial, multifamily residential, or industrial property, the commissioner or other officer shall provide the taxpayer notice of the request not less than 14 days prior to the hearing of the board. Except as provided herein, if the taxpayer contests the requested increase, the assessor shall either withdraw the request or shall provide the board an appraisal performed by an independent contractor who is licensed and certified by the Virginia Real Estate Appraiser Board to serve as a general real estate appraiser, which appraisal affirms that such increase in value represents the property's fair market value as of the date of the assessment in dispute. The provisions of this subsection that require that the assessor provide the board with an appraisal shall not apply if (i) the requested increase is based on mistakes of fact, including computation errors, or (ii) the information on which the commissioner or other officer bases the requested increase was available to, but not provided by, the taxpayer in response to a request for information made by the commissioner or other officer at the time the challenged assessment was made.

E. The commissioner of the revenue or other local assessing officer of such county or city shall, when requested, attend the meetings of the board, without additional compensation, and shall call the attention of the board to such inequalities in real estate assessments in his county or city as may be known to him.

F. Every board of equalization may go upon and inspect any real estate subject to adjustment or equalization by it.

Code 1950, § 58-904; 1984, c. 675; 2003, c. 1036; 2010, c. 552; 2011, cc. 184, 232; 2013, c. 197.

§ 58.1-3380. Taxpayer or local authorities may apply for equalization.

Any taxpayer or his duly appointed representative may apply to the board of equalization for the adjustment to fair market value and equalization of his assessment, including errors in acreage, and any county or city through its appointed representative or attorney may apply to the board of equalization to adjust an assessment of real property to its fair market value and to equalize the assessment of any taxpayer. An executed and properly notarized letter from the property owner designating an appointed representative for the taxpayer shall be presumed to be a valid designation from the taxpayer, and the person whose signature is notarized shall be presumed to have the authority to designate such representative on behalf of the taxpayer.

Code 1950, § 58-905; 1984, c. 675; 2003, c. 1036; 2013, c. 197.

§ 58.1-3381. Action of board; notice required before increase made.

A. The board shall hear and determine any and all such petitions and, by order, may increase, decrease or affirm the assessment of which complaint is made; and, by order, it may increase or decrease any assessment, upon its own motion. No assessment shall be increased until after the owner of the property has been notified and given an opportunity to show cause against such increase. In addition, no assessment shall be increased on commercial, multi-family residential, or industrial property unless such increase is recommended by the assessor in compliance with the provisions of § 58.1-3379.

B. Any determination of the assessment by the board shall be deemed presumptively correct for the succeeding two years unless the assessor can demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that a substantial change in value of the property has occurred. This subsection shall apply to the City of Virginia Beach.

Code 1950, § 58-906; 1984, c. 675; 1993, c. 136; 2007, c. 813; 2013, c. 197.

§ 58.1-3382. Appeal.

The attorney for the county, city or town or any taxpayer, aggrieved by any such order, may apply to the circuit court of the county or city, for the correction and revision of such order, in the same manner and within the same time as is provided by law for the correction of erroneous assessments of real estate by any person who is aggrieved thereby.

Code 1950, § 58-907; 1984, c. 675.

§ 58.1-3383. Omitted real estate and duplicate assessments.

The board may direct the commissioner of the revenue to enter upon the land books real estate which is found to have been omitted, and to cancel duplicate assessments of real estate.

Code 1950, § 58-908; 1984, c. 675.

§ 58.1-3384. Minutes and copies of orders.

The board shall keep minutes of its meetings and enter therein all orders made and transmit promptly copies of such orders as relate to the increase or decrease of assessments to the taxpayer and commissioner of the revenue. The orders shall be recorded on forms prepared by the Tax Commissioner and provided to localities by the Department of Taxation or on forms prepared by the board that contain, at a minimum, all the information required on the forms prepared by the Tax Commissioner.

Code 1950, § 58-909; 1984, c. 675; 2003, c. 1036.

§ 58.1-3385. Commissioner to make changes ordered; when order exonerates taxpayer.

The commissioner of the revenue shall make on his land book the changes so ordered by the board and, if such changes affect the land book for the then current year and such land book has been then completed, the commissioner of the revenue may for that year make a supplemental assessment in case of an increase in valuation. In case of a decrease in valuation, the order of the board shall entitle the taxpayer to an exoneration from so much of the assessment as exceeds the proper amount, if the taxes have not been paid by him and, in case the taxes have been paid, to a refund of so much thereof as is erroneous.

Code 1950, § 58-910; 1984, c. 675.

§ 58.1-3386. Power of boards to send for persons and papers.

Such board shall have authority to summon taxpayers or their agents, or any person: (1) to furnish information relating to the real estate of any and all taxpayers, (2) to answer, under oath, all questions touching the ownership and value of real estate of any and all taxpayers, and (3) to bring before it their books of account or other papers and records containing information with respect to the valuation of real estate of the taxpayer or any other real estate subject to taxation within the county or city under review by the board. Such summons may be served in person or by registered mail.

Code 1950, § 58-911; 1984, c. 675.

§ 58.1-3387. Penalty for failure to obey summons.

Any person refusing to answer the summons of the board of equalization, to furnish information or to produce his books of account, papers and other records, as required by this chapter, shall be deemed guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor, and each day's failure to answer such summons, to furnish such information or to produce such books of account, papers and other records shall constitute a separate offense.

Code 1950, § 58-912; 1984, c. 675.

§ 58.1-3388. In counties not having general reassessment, or annual or biennial assessment, taxes to be extended on basis of last equalization made.

In every county not having a general reassessment or an annual or biennial assessment of real estate, taxes for each year on real estate shall be extended on the basis of the last equalization made prior to such year, subject to such changes as may have been lawfully made.

Code 1950, § 58-913; 1979, c. 577; 1984, c. 675.

§ 58.1-3389. Article not applicable to real estate assessable by Corporation Commission or Department.

This article shall not apply to any real estate which is assessable under the law by the State Corporation Commission or the Department of Taxation.

Code 1950, § 58-915; 1983, cc. 304, 570; 1984, c. 675.