City of Alexandria, VA
Tax Guide for New City Residents
Please note that this guide is only a summary of issues of interest to new residents. Where necessary, links are provided to complete and accurate information on the taxes covered by this guide.
The City of Alexandria is an independent, full-service City located on the west bank of the Potomac River. The City retains sole local governmental taxing power within its boundaries and is autonomous from any county, town, or other political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The City adopted the Council-Manager form of government in 1922. The governing body of the City is the City Council, which formulates policies for the administration of the City. The City Council is composed of a mayor and six council members elected at-large for a three-year term. The Mayor is chosen on a separate ballot. City Council appoints the City Manager who serves as the City’s Chief Executive Officer. The City Manager has appointment and removal authority over department heads and other employees of the City and is responsible for implementing the policies established by the City Council.
The City provides a comprehensive range of municipal services including: education, health, welfare, housing and human services programs; public safety and administration of justice; community development, recreation, libraries, consumer assistance, cultural and historic activities; and transportation, environmental services and planning.
According to the Commonwealth's Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, the combined state and local taxes paid by Virginia residents represent a lower portion of personal income (9.2 percent) than that paid by residents of 42 other states. Virginia's state and local taxes per capita ($3,970) are lower than those in 21 states. Virginia local taxes per capita ($1,874) are lower than in 12 other states. By comparison, the combined state and local tax burden for Maryland residents is 33rd as a percentage of income (9.9 percent) and the ninth highest in the country per capita ($4,708). Maryland's local taxes per capita ($2,040) are the eighth highest in the country.
The City of Alexandria offers tax relief programs and payment plans to offset the City tax burden for some residents.
Please note that some Alexandria postal addresses are located in Fairfax County, while some Arlington postal addresses are located in the City. Addresses with the following zip codes are located entirely within the City of Alexandria:
The 22302, 22304, 22311 and 22312 zip codes are shared between Fairfax County and the City of Alexandria. The 22206 zip code is shared between Arlington County and the City of Alexandria. Any person living in the 22302, 22304, 22311, 22312, or 22206 zip code may verify his or her locality via the United States Postal Service website by entering his or her home address and clicking on "Mailing Industry Information."
Many new residents, specifically those moving to the City from other states, may be confused by the requirements imposed on vehicle owners by Virginia and City law. In some cases, this may result in receiving a citation for failure to register with the City, failure to display a City decal, or failure to display a residential parking permit. To avoid getting a citation for any of these reasons, new residents should:
Step 1: Registration
Unlike residents of many other states, residents of Virginia must register both with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and their local jurisdiction. Registration with DMV must be completed within 30 days of moving into Virginia. Registration with the City must be completed within 30 days of moving into the City, includes registration for the annual personal property tax, and allows the resident to purchase the City decal and a residential parking permit (if necessary). The City offers various options for vehicle registration.
Note: Due to the need for some residents to register with the City immediately to obtain a residential parking permit and avoid receiving a citation, City residents are permitted to register with the City prior to completing registration with DMV.
Step 2: The City Decal
Once a vehicle is registered, the City will bill for the City decal and any personal property tax that may be immediately due. The resident will be given at least 30 days to pay any amount due. However, the City will permit him or her to purchase the decal prior to paying the tax to avoid being cited for failure to display the decal. Decal fees vary depending on the type of vehicle and whether the vehicle is for business or personal use. For more information on how the decal fee and personal property taxes are assessed, please click here.
Step 3: Residential Parking Permit
Not all City residents will be required to purchase a residential parking permit. However, residents who live in residential parking districts, which are indicated by signs prohibiting on-street parking for more than two or three hours during varying time periods, should register and purchase a residential parking permit immediately to avoid being cited if they intend to use on-street parking in their districts. (Please note that residents of residential parking permit districts who do not intend to park their vehicles on the City streets are not required to purchase a parking permit.) The fee for the residential parking permit will be added to the personal property tax bill along with the decal fee. The residential parking permit fee varies based on the number of cars owned. For more information on the residential parking permit, including how the fees are assessed, please click here.
The City of Alexandria does not assess a City income tax. Residents of the City of Alexandria pay only state income tax and federal income tax each year. State income tax forms are available in City Hall, 301 King Street, Room 1700 or at the Virginia Department of Taxation website. The City offers residents free assistance with filing Virginia state income tax returns in person, by phone, or by email. Additional information on tax preparation assistance is available here.
The City assesses property taxes on both real estate and and motor vehicles.
Real Estate Tax
Residential and commercial property is assessed at 100 percent of the estimated fair market value as of January 1 of each year. Information on real estate assessment procedures, Board of Equalization and Assessment Review, and the appeals process is available from the Department of Real Estate Assessments. Real estate taxes are calculated by multiplying the property's assessed value by the real estate tax rate. Real estate taxes are billed and payable in two installments. The first tax bill is mailed in May and is due by June 15. The second tax bill is mailed in October and is due by November 15. If taxes are included in the property owner's mortgage payments, the City will bill the bank or mortgage company for taxes due.
All motor vehicles normally parked, stored or garaged (having situs) in the City of Alexandria, including vehicles with out-of-state plates, must be registered for the City's personal property tax. All motor vehicles registered to a City address with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles must also be registered with the City, even vehicles normally parked, stored, or garaged in another state. New residents have 30 days to register with the City and purchase and display a City decal. Residents of residential parking districts should register and purchase a residential parking permit immediately to avoid getting a citation if they intend to use on-street parking in their districts. The annual personal property tax bill is mailed in August and must be paid by October 5 (or the next business day if October 5 falls on a weekend or holiday). Payments on newly registered vehicles are due within 30 days of the billing date. Once registered with the City, a vehicle remains registered until the vehicle owner provides the information and documentation needed to adjust or close the account.
The Personal Property Tax serves as a vital source of revenue for the City's General Fund, including funding for transportation, maintenance of the City's roads and bridges, and public safety (such as traffic and parking enforcement). While the tax structure in Virginia may differ in various ways from other states, the assessment of property taxes on vehicles is a common (although not universal) practice throughout the United States and represents just one way to ensure that the tax burden is distributed fairly amongst businesses, homeowners, and renters.
Although the personal property tax seems onerous to many and may indeed be onerous to residents experiencing financial difficulties, the Commonwealth and the City have taken steps to limit the burden placed on vehicle owners who use their vehicles solely for day-to-day personal activities. For vehicles used at least 50 percent for personal use, the Commonwealth offers Personal Property Tax Relief, which pays a significant percentage of the personal property taxes on the first $20,000 in assessed value. (The percentage of the tax covered varies from year to year but generally ranges between 60 and 70 percent. The total dollar amount provided for relief will be prorated to reflect the number of months for which the vehicle is taxable.) The City waives taxes on vehicles valued at less than $1,000; offers residents the opportunity to appeal the vehicle assessment if they feel high mileage or mechanical damage lowers the vehicle's value; and allows payment plans for taxpayers having difficulty meeting their tax obligations. In addition, the City has the Personal Property Tax Relief Program for Elderly and Disabled Persons, which offers complete exemption of the tax on one vehicle for persons who meet age or disability provisions as well as income and asset limitations.
The City offers tax relief programs for the elderly and/or disabled and some disabled veterans as well as payment plans for taxpayers experiencing financial difficulties.
Tax Relief Programs
Residents of the City of Alexandria who are 65 years of age or older or who are permanently and totally disabled may be eligible for the City's Personal Property Tax Relief Program for Elderly or Totally Disabled Persons and/or the City's Real Estate Tax Relief or Deferral Program for Elderly or Totally Disabled Persons. These programs provide full or partial tax exemptions and/or partial tax deferrals to eligible residents. Interested residents may apply for both types of tax exemption and/or deferral on the same application. Guidelines for the program, which are subject to change each year, and program applications are made available in late January or early February each year. Applications are due April 15 (or the next business day if April 15 falls on a weekend or holiday).
The City offers a full real estate tax exemption to any veteran who has been rated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or its successor agency pursuant to federal law to have a 100 percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability and who occupies the real property as his/her primary place of residence. The surviving spouse of a veteran eligible for the exemption may also qualify.
On occasion, taxpayers may not be able to pay when taxes are due. The payment plan, which spreads the total tax liability over time, is designed only to stop legal action for collection of delinquent taxes. It is a formal, signed agreement between the City and the taxpayer. The typical payment plan requires that the taxpayer make an initial payment of 20 percent of the taxes due; the remaining balance will then be paid in installments over a time period designated by the City. Interest will continue to accrue during the payment period. Payment plans are administered by Tax Services & Enforcement.
Real Estate Tax
Real estate taxes are billed in May and October and due on June 15 and November 15. Real estate tax payments (by check or money order), if not made by the taxpayer’s bank or mortgage company, may be mailed with the bill stub to:
Any property owner wishing to pay by check or money order should write the account number in the memo field. Returned checks are subject to a $35 fee in accordance with state law.
Through the Automatic Bank Debit Program, taxpayers may register to make real estate tax payments monthly or have the lump sum of the tax amount due automatically debited on each of the two tax due dates. This program has proven to be popular with those who prefer making monthly payments and with those who may travel a great deal and may either forget the bill or be out of town when the tax payment falls due. (Example: preauthorized monthly payment schedule).
Information on other payment methods, including eCheck and debit/credit card payments, is available on the Six Easy Ways to Pay page.
Personal Property (Vehicle) Tax
Personal Property (Vehicle) Tax is billed in August and due October 5 (or the next business day if October 5 falls on a weekend or holiday). Taxes and decal fees assessed on newly registered vehicles are due within 30 days of billing. Personal property tax payments (by check or money order) may be mailed with the bill stub to:
Any vehicle owner wishing to pay by check or money order should write the account number in the memo field. Returned checks are subject to a $35 fee in accordance with state law.
Information on all other payment methods, including eCheck and debit/credit card payments, is available on the Six Easy Ways to Pay page.
Additional Payment Resources