Main content
City of Alexandria Homepage
Thursday, August 21  •  80°Partly Cloudy Air Quality: Green
CloseWeather Forecast
Today: High 91° Low 72°
Partly CloudyAir Quality: Green
Fri: High 88° Low 70°
PM ThunderstormsAir Quality: Yellow
Sat: High 81° Low 65°
ShowersAir Quality: Green
Sun: High 80° Low 62°
Partly Cloudy
Mon: High 80° Low 61°
Partly Cloudy
City of Alexandria, VA City of Alexandria, VA
Finance
Share Share RSS RSS Print Print Text Size Text Size NormalText Size LargeText Size Extra Large
Page updated Jul 16, 2014 11:00 AM
CloseComments

No Comments Posted Yet

Frequently Asked Questions

Vehicle Personal Property Taxes and City Decals

  1. What is the purpose and/or benefits of the personal property tax and decal fee? 
  2. Why hasn't the City eliminated the windshield decal like other jurisdictions? 
  3. Who must register for personal property tax? 
  4. My vehicle is normally parked, stored, or garaged in another state but has Virginia plates, do I have to register for personal property tax? 
  5. How do I register my car for personal property tax purposes? 
  6. How do I get a City decal? 
  7. I qualify for personal property tax exemption. What do I have to do? 
  8. Why do I have to notify the City when I move, sell a vehicle, etc.? 
  9. Why can't the City use DMV or Post Office records to correct my account? 
  10. Why do I have to pay a late payment penalty if I moved out of the City? 
  11. I didn't receive my bill. Why do I have to pay penalties? 
  12. Why was I assessed a late filing penalty?  
  13. I paid last October. Am I paid up through this year? 
  14. My decal expires in October. Am I paid up through then? 
  15. Why did my vehicle assessment or personal property taxes increase from last year? 
  16. For more information.... 

Residential and Temporary Parking Permits

  1. Who is eligible for residential parking permits? 
  2. How do I get a residential parking permit for my vehicle? 
  3. Can I get temporary parking permits for my guests? 
  4. What is a "Business" permit? 
  5. Where do I get a temporary parking permit outside of regular business hours? 
  6. Can I get temporary parking permits in advance? 
  7. For more information... 

Parking Citations

  1. How do I request information about a parking citation? 
  2. How do I pay a parking citation? 
  3. How do I contest a parking citation? 
  4. How do I avoid getting a parking citation? 
  5. For more information... 

Real Estate Taxes

  1. How much real estate tax do I owe? 
  2. How do I contest an assessment? 
  3. Can I get a payment plan for real estate tax? 
  4. What programs are available to assist with the payment of real estate tax? 
  5. How do I change my mailing address for real estate tax billing? 
  6. For more information... 

Operating a Business in the City

  1. How do I start a business in the City of Alexandria? 
  2. What types of taxes/license fees must I pay? 
  3. How and when do I renew my business license? 
  4. What do I have to do if I want to change my business location? 
  5. How do I close my business license tax account when I cease business? 
  6. For more information... 

Payments and Due Dates

  1. When are my taxes due? 
  2. How do I pay taxes and citations? 
  3. Can I pay by credit or debit card in person at City Hall? 
  4. Why doesn't Treasury take American Express, Visa, Mastercard or debit cards at the cashier windows? 
  5. Why can't I pay my DMV Block with a check? 

Delinquent Taxes, Tax Filings, and Parking Citation Fines

  1. What happens if I miss a due date? 
  2. What happens if I miss a filing deadline? 
  3. Can late payment penalties, interest, and administrative fees be waived? 
  4. What collection programs does the City use? 
  5. What if I can't pay my outstanding tax balance due to financial difficulties? 

Vehicle Personal Property Taxes and City Decals

1. What is the purpose and/or benefits of the personal property tax and decal fee? 

The personal property tax and decal fee serve 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.

It's important to note here that, 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.

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 uses, the Commonwealth offers Personal Property Tax Relief, which pays the majority of the personal property taxes on the first $20,000 in assessed value. (The percentage and amount of the tax covered varies from year to year.) 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.

2. Why hasn't the City eliminated the windshield decal like other jurisdictions? 

Many Virginia jurisdictions have eliminated the windshield decal. However, it is important to note that this did not necessarily result in lower taxes for taxpayers. In fact, most jurisdictions maintained their revenues by: (a.) continuing to assess an annual motor vehicle license fee or registration fee that generally matches the decal fee schedule in use prior to decal elimination; (b.) increasing their personal property tax rates; or (c.) altering the basis for vehicle assessments (e.g. from loan value to trade-in value) in a manner that increased personal property tax assessments. Many also had to spend more time on delinquent tax collections.

Were the City to eliminate both the decal and the decal fee, the City would experience a significant decline in revenues for City programs. Based on FY 2012 statistics, revenue losses would include approximately $3.4 million in decal fees and an estimated $1.0 million in personal property taxes collected as a result of decal enforcement activities. A revenue loss of this magnitude would require the City to compensate, at least partially, by increased taxes and/or fees in other areas.

Elimination of the decal would also seriously hamper the City's personal property tax enforcement and collection efforts. This is true for three reasons:

  1. The City’s population is much more transient than that of other jurisdictions, making personal property tax enforcement much more difficult. According to the 2010 Census, renter-occupied housing units make up 56.7 percent of the City’s occupied housing units, compared to a Virginia average of 32.8 percent. This transience is also reflected in the City’s personal property tax statistics. In calendar year 2011, the City created 12,118 new taxpayer accounts and 28,147 new vehicle accounts (21.3 percent of all 2011 vehicle accounts). An additional 6,040 vehicle accounts were prorated as moved out of the City. With such a highly transient population, public education efforts alone are limited in their effectiveness. In fact, many new residents and first-time vehicle owners become aware of the registration requirement only through decal enforcement efforts or by seeing decals on their neighbors’ vehicles. 
  2. Eliminating the decal would eliminate Tag Enforcement as a lower cost tax collection and enforcement tool and shift the cost to staffing costs. In FY 2012, Tag Enforcement Officers wrote 6,580 citations for City decal-related offenses. Prior to paying these citations, cited vehicle owners were required to register for and/or pay the personal property tax, the decal fee, and, if applicable, the parking permit fee. In the absence of increased staffing or additional enforcement and collection tools, the loss of Tag Enforcement would require Finance Department staff to become more dependent on other third-party collection and enforcement programs, which are more expensive and difficult to administer, requiring significant investments in staff time and effort. 
  3. Eliminating the decal (and Tag Enforcement efforts with it) would significantly hamper the City’s ability to enforce personal property tax requirements on vehicles with out-of-state plates. There were 3,348 vehicles with out-of-state plates registered in the City during calendar year 2011, 2.5 percent of all accounts. (Tag Enforcement surveys in previous years indicated that out-of-state vehicles may represent an even larger percentage of the vehicles normally parked, stored, or garaged in the City. ) Since these vehicles do not appear in Virginia DMV records, Tag Enforcement patrols and reports from residents (who may contact the City when they see vehicles without decals in their neighborhoods) are vital to collecting the taxes due from the owners of these vehicles if and when they fail to register with the City as required.

The City’s Finance Department does regularly give serious consideration to eliminating the decal and improving or make using of new enforcement and collection efforts to maintain revenues. At this time, however, the decal is still the most cost-effective tool the City can use to ensure that all Alexandrians pay their personal property taxes.

3. Who must register for personal property tax? 

Any person or business that owns a vehicle that is normally parked, stored, or garaged in the City of Alexandria for 30 days or more must register for personal property tax and purchase and display a City decal.  Any person or business that registers a vehicle to a City address with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) must also register with the City for personal property tax, even if the vehicle is normally parked, stored, or garaged in another state.  Please keep in mind:

  1. You should register your vehicle with the City and purchase and display a City decal within 30 days. You can be cited for failure to display a City decal once the vehicle has been taxable in the City for 30 days. Decal-related citations carry a $40 fine.
  2. Registering with DMV does not constitute registration with the City. You should register with DMV and with the City.
  3. Most dealerships and leasing companies will register your vehicle with DMV but not with the City. Please do not assume that your dealership or leasing company has registered your vehicle with the City even if it offers registration service. This assumption frequently leads to new vehicle owners or lessees receiving parking citations or being assessed a late filing penalty.

Please note that once a vehicle is registered in the City, it will remain registered until the owner provides documentation that the vehicle has been disposed of (sold, donated, totaled, etc.) or registered in either another state or another Virginia jurisdiction.

4. My vehicle is normally parked, stored, or garaged in another state but has Virginia plates, do I have to register for personal property tax? 

Code of Virginia Section 58.1-3511 requires the jurisdictions to tax any vehicle weighing less than 10,000 pounds that is registered to a Virginia address with Virginia DMV, even if that vehicle is normally parked, stored, or garaged in another state.  If your vehicle was or is registered to a City address with Virginia DMV, you must be registered with the City for taxation; however, if your vehicle is not located in Virginia and will not be parked on the City streets at any time, you do not have to purchase a City decal.  You should inform the City that your vehicle will not be parked on the City streets so that you are not assessed the fee for a City decal.

Please note that vehicle owners who move out of the state and wish to stop being assessed the personal property tax must register with the new state and provide a copy of this registration to the jurisdiction in which their vehicle was last registered. 
 

5. How do I register my car for personal property pax? 

You may register for vehicle personal property tax online, by mailing an application, or by bringing a copy of your vehicle registration to Tax Services & Enforcement at 301 King Street, Room 1700 during normal business hours, 8 a.m. through 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Please note that you must register your vehicle with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 30 days of purchasing a vehicle or moving to Virginia and register with the City of Alexandria within 30 days of purchasing the vehicle or moving to the City.

6. How do I get a City decal? 

Once you have registered for personal property tax, you will be billed for the City decal and any personal property taxes due at that time, if any. Once you have paid the decal fee and any prior year taxes assessed, staff will mail you a City decal. If you pay in person, Treasury staff will give you a decal at the window.

As long as there is no delinquent balance on your personal property tax account, an advance decal will be included with your annual bill. If there is a delinquent balance on your account, you must pay all taxes, penalties, and interest due before the City will issue your new decal.

7. I qualify for a personal property tax and/or decal fee exemption. What do I have to do? 

Some active duty members of the military and/or their spouses, members of the U.S. Congress and their spouses, recognized foreign diplomats and their immediate families, disabled American veterans, and members of the Virginia National Guard are fully or partially exempt from the personal property tax and/or decal fee.  (To determine which exemption, if any, may apply to you, please click here.) If you are exempt under one of these categories, you must register your vehicle and provide documentation of your exempt status if needed. You will still be required to display a valid City decal and/or residential parking permit, if applicable, and return the filing by exception letter (FBE) each year. (Please note that FBE's are mailed to vehicle owners in February. Only vehicle owners wishing to report a change to the information provided in the letter are required to return the FBE.)

Please note that leased vehicles, vehicles used in a trade or business, vehicles owned by trusts, and vehicles co-owned by non-exempt persons do not qualify for exemption of either the personal property tax or decal fee.

8. Why do I have to notify the City when I move, sell a vehicle, etc.? 

The Alexandria City Code requires all taxpayers to report changes affecting their tax assessment or tax billing within 30 days. This is the primary means for the City to maintain complete and accurate tax records. Please note that notifying the City of any changes to your tax status or mailing address allows staff to ensure that you receive timely, accurate bills for your personal property tax and may help you avoid undue collection efforts.

NOTE: If you receive a decal and/or parking permit in the mail for a vehicle that has already been sold, donated, moved out, etc., you should return the decal and/or parking permit unused to have the fee removed. Decals and parking permits can be returned by mail to Treasury Division, City of Alexandria, P.O. Box 323, Alexandria, VA 22313.

9. Why can't the City use DMV records to correct my account or register my vehicle?  Why can't the City use Post Office records to correct my account? 

Virginia DMV does not inform the City when a taxpayer moves within or out of the City, sells a vehicle, etc. The City does attempt to update accounts based on DMV files where necessary. However, accessing these files on a case-by-case basis without input from the taxpayer may cause a significant delay in processing accounts, prevent timely, accurate billing, and lead to undue collection efforts.

The City can and does use Virginia DMV records both to register new vehicles when working individual accounts and to register vehicles through what is called an “automatic registration program.” Through the automatic registration program, DMV provides the City with a weekly file of vehicles newly registered or moved to a City address, allowing the City to pick up vehicles that have not been registered by their owners. However, this program and the use of DMV records in general comes with several limitations:

  1. There is often significant lag time between when a vehicle becomes taxable and when it can be placed in the City’s personal property tax database, delaying collections and affecting revenues. This is due to vehicle owner delay in updating DMV records, the time required to clean the DMV file of vehicles already registered or disposed prior to the resident’s move to the City, the time required for manual assessment of certain vehicle types, and the time required for staff to manually apply personal property tax relief to qualifying vehicles. In some cases, a vehicle newly moved into or purchased in the City may not make its way into the database through the automatic registration process for more than 120 days after it became taxable in the City, at which point City staff must also assess a late filing penalty. 
  2. DMV records often reflect an incorrect or outdated garage jurisdiction, preventing vehicles from being reported to the correct jurisdiction. This is primarily related to overlap between the City and both Fairfax and Arlington Counties; however, there is also some human error on the part of residents and DMV staff. For instance, some residents and DMV staff may incorrectly label some addresses as Fairfax or Arlington County when they are, in fact, City of Alexandria addresses. In addition, DMV staff does not always update what is known as the garage jurisdiction when updating a vehicle owner’s physical address.
  3. DMV records are often inaccurate, incomplete, or ambiguous as to move in dates and other vehicle-related information vital to registering vehicles for personal property taxes. This means that, if staff relies solely on DMV records, a vehicle may be registered as moved into the City weeks or months after it actually became taxable in the City.
  4. Some residents fail to update their DMV records when they change addresses, so they do not get listed in the DMV file and cannot be picked up through automatic registration. As with the enforcement efforts involving vehicles with out-of-state plates, the decal can be vital to the City’s efforts to ensure that the vehicles owned by these residents are registered and that all residents pay their fair share.

Post Office mail forwarding stickers may contain inaccurate, incomplete, or out-of-date information. For this reason, staff must validate Post Office information through other sources before using it to update an account. As with the above, this may delay account processing, prevent timely, accurate billing, and lead to undue collection efforts.

Considering the above, contacting the City within 30 days whenever you move in to the City, purchase a new vehicle, dispose of a vehicle, or move out of the City is the only sure way to ensure that your account remains accurate and up-to-date.

10. Why do I have to pay a late payment penalty if I moved out of the City? 

If you move but do not inform the City, you may not receive an accurate bill prior to the due date. Any tax accounts that are not paid on or before the due date incur late payment penalties. Virginia law does not allow the City to waive late payment penalties due to the taxpayer's failure to receive a tax bill.  Please note that, even if you move out or sell/donate your vehicle during the year, you will still owe partial-year personal property taxes. If you do not receive a bill before the first week of September, please contact the City by email or call 703.746.3995.

11. I didn't receive my bill. Why do I have to pay penalties? 

The City makes every effort to ensure the prompt, accurate billing of all City taxes and fees. However, in some instances, you may not receive the bill mailed to you. It is your responsibility to contact us if you do not receive a bill and to pay the taxes by the due date. Any amount not paid by the due date will be subject to penalties and, depending on the date of payment, may also become subject to interest and administrative fees. The City cannot waive penalties, interest, or administrative fees based on non-receipt of a tax bill. If you do not receive a bill before the first week of September, please contact the City by email or call 703.746.3995.

12. Why was I assessed a late filing penalty? 

In brief, you were assessed a late filing penalty because more than 120 days passed between the date your vehicle was purchased, moved into the City, or registered to a City address with Virginia DMV (the date it became taxable, in other words) and the date your vehicle was entered into the City's personal property tax database.  Staff cannot waive this fee unless you can provide proof that you submitted registration to the City within 120 days of the vehicle becoming taxable in the City.

Please note that the City makes every effort to inform City residents of the 30-day vehicle registration requirement and gives an additional 90-day grace period prior to applying late filing penalty; however, many vehicle owners remain unaware that they must register with the City, believe that DMV registration includes City registration, or believe that the dealership from which they purchased a vehicle or the leasing company from which they leased a vehicle will register the vehicle with the City.  When you move in to the City, purchase a new vehicle, or lease a new vehicle you must keep the following in mind:

  1. You should register your vehicle with the City and purchase and display a City decal within 30 days.  Although you would not be liable for late filing penalty until 120 days have passed, you can be cited for failure to display a City decal once the vehicle has been taxable in the City for 30 days.  Decal-related citations carry a $40 fine.
  2. Registering with DMV does not constitute registration with the City.  Although the City does use the "automatic registration program" described above, this program involves a lengthy process, so vehicles registered through it could still be eligible for late filing penalty.  Vehicle owners should register with DMV and with the City.
  3. Most dealerships and leasing companies will register your vehicle with DMV but not with the City.  (In cases where a leasing company does register the vehicle with the City, it may not do so until it completes its annual filing with the City, which may be more than 120 days after the vehicle became taxable.)   Please do not assume that your dealership or leasing company has registered your vehicle with the City even if it offers registration service.  This assumption frequently leads to new vehicle owners or lessees receiving parking citations or being assessed late filing penalty.

13. I paid last October. Am I paid up through this year? 

No. The personal property tax is billed for the current calendar year, not the coming year. For instance, payments made for the 2012 personal property tax (billed August 2012, due October 5, 2012) covered January 1 through December 31, 2012. If you move out during calendar year 2013, you will owe partial 2013 personal property taxes, which will be billed in August 2013 and due October 5, 2013. Please remember that if you dispose of a vehicle or move out of the City, you should contact the City within 30 days to ensure that the account is adjusted or closed and any tax due is billed appropriately.

NOTE: If you receive a decal and/or parking permit in the mail for a vehicle that has already been sold, donated, moved out, etc., you should return the decal and/or parking permit unused to have the fee(s) removed. Decals and parking permits can be returned by mail to Treasury Division, City of Alexandria, P.O. Box 323, Alexandria, VA 22313.

14.My decal expires in October. Am I paid up through then? 

No. Although they are billed together, the City decal and personal property tax cover different time periods.

The City decal is usually effective from its issuance to October 5 of the following calendar year (or the current year if issued during the decal's effective year). For example, a decal issued with the 2012 personal property tax bill mailed in August 2012 expires October 5, 2013. A decal issued in January 2013 also expires October 5, 2013. You are given a small grace period for removing and replacing the decal, which must be done by November 15 each year.

The personal property tax covers the current calendar year. So, the 2012 personal property tax bill mailed in August 2012 covered January 1 to December 31, 2012. So, although you have an unexpired City decal, you may still owe personal property tax for all or part of the current calendar year. Please remember that if you dispose of a vehicle or move out of the City, you should contact the City within 30 days to ensure that the account is adjusted or closed and any tax due is billed appropriately.

NOTE: If you receive a decal and/or parking permit in the mail for a vehicle that has already been sold, donated, moved out, etc., you should return the decal and/or parking permit unused to have the fee removed. Decals and parking permits can be returned by mail to Treasury Division, City of Alexandria, P.O. Box 323, Alexandria, VA 22313.

15. Why did my vehicle assessment or personal property taxes increase from last year? 

Vehicle Assessment: Various factors are involved in assessing the value of a vehicle. Under Virginia law, the City is obligated to use a recognized pricing guide to assess vehicles wherever possible. Most vehicles in the City are assessed based on the January clean trade-in value found in the NADA Official Used Car Guide (NADA), the primary pricing guide used by all Virginia jurisdictions. Please note that this is an automated process that does not involve decision-making on the part of City staff. City staff manually assesses only those vehicles not found in NADA or any of the City’s secondary pricing guides. In those cases, staff uses a set percentage of the Manufacturers’ Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) or the purchase price, depending on the availability of information, and follows clear assessment policies and guidelines.

NADA has provided this guide that explains the assessment process and assessment increases in depth. However, in short, a vehicle's assessment may increase from one year to the next because:

  1. The vehicle was assessed based on MSRP or purchase price last year but based on clean trade-in value this year; or
  2. The NADA clean trade-in value actually increased from last year's value due to market forces.

While the City’s standard assessment process assumes that vehicles are in fair condition for their age, the City does allow assessment appeals based on high mileage, extensive body or interior damage, or serious mechanical malfunctions. If you feel that your vehicle is not in fair condition, please click here for additional information about appealing the assessment.

Personal Property Taxes: Personal property taxes may increase, even without an increase in the tax rate, for three reasons:

  1. The vehicle's assessed value increased;
  2. The number of months for which the vehicle was taxable increased; or
  3. The amount of the tax covered by personal property tax relief decreased.

Personal Property Tax Relief in 2012 fell to 61 percent, compared to 63 percent in 2011, causing an increase in tax assessment for vehicles that maintained or increased their value from 2011 and for some vehicles that had only minimal declines in value from 2011.

16. For more information: 

Please visit the Personal Property Tax page for more information on the personal property tax, vehicle registration, the City decal, and other topics. Please visit Tax Services & Enforcement for more information on delinquent tax collections, penalties, and payment plans.

Back to Top 


Parking Permits

1. Who is eligible for residential parking permits? 

Only full-time residents of residential parking permit districts are eligible for parking permits. Residential parking permit districts include those streets that are marked for two or three-hour parking only.

2. How do I get a residential parking permit? 

If you are eligible, you will be billed for a residential parking permit once you have registered for personal property tax. The fee for the residential parking permit is $30 for the first vehicle, $40 for the second vehicle, and $100 for each additional vehicle. Upon receiving your payment, the Treasury Division will send you a residential parking permit and City decal. If you pay in person, staff will give you a decal and residential parking permit at the window.  The City recommends that vehicle owners who reside in residential parking districts and intend to park on the City streets purchase a parking permit immediately upon moving in or purchasing a new vehicle to avoid being cited for failure to display a parking permit.  The fine for a parking permit citation is $40. 

As long as there is no delinquent balance on your personal property tax account, a residential parking permit will be included with your annual personal property tax bill in August. If there is a delinquent balance on your account, you must pay all taxes, penalties, and interest due before the City will issue your residential parking permit.

3. Can I get temporary parking permits for my guests? 

Yes. Residents of residential parking permits are allowed temporary parking permits for guests. There are two types:

  1. "Visitor permits" are issued for visitors staying longer than 24 hours, excluding employees of the residence and/or persons under contract to provide services at the residence. The "Visitor" permit is valid for a maximum of 30 days and is non-renewable. No more than two "Visitor" permits may be issued to the same residence at one time. The fee for permits lasting longer than seven days is $5.
  2. "Guest permits" are issued for guests staying less than 24 hours, excluding employees of the residence and/or persons under contract to provide services at the residence. "Guest" permits are free.

Please note that only the resident may pick up a temporary parking permit. All temporary parking permits are available at the Treasury Division, 301 King Street, Room 1510 during regular business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday). Guest permits may also be obtained online or at any Alexandria Library branch.

4. What is a "Business" permit? 

The City issues a "Business" permit for the vehicle(s) of contractors doing business in the home of a resident of a parking permit district. No more than three "Business" permits are issued a residence at one time. The "Business" permit is free and is available at the Treasury Division, 301 King Street, Room 1510 during regular business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday).

5. Where do I get a temporary parking permit outside of regular business hours? 

"Guest" permits are available online 24 hours a day or at any Alexandria Library branch during library hours. Currently, residents may obtain "Visitor" permits within regular business hours only.

6. Can I get temporary parking permits in advance? 

Yes. You can get the temporary "Visitor," "Guest" and "Business" permits before the date(s) you will need them.

7. For more information... 

Please see Residential Parking Permit Program Facts for more information on City parking permits.

Back to Top 


Parking Citations

1. How do I request information about a parking citation? 

Vehicle owners wishing to request information about a specific parking citation may do so here or view all open citations for a specific vehicle by entering the vehicle's license plate number and state here.

2.  How do I pay a parking citation? 

The City of Alexandria offers a variety of convenient ways to pay parking citations. See Six Easy Ways to Pay for detailed information.

NOTE: The LICENSE TAG / DECAL violations listed below cannot be paid online or by phone.

  • 3-2-336 Offenses relating to city windshield tag or decal
  • 10-4-37 Failure to procure and display city windshield tag or decal
  • 10-4-37.1  Enforcement of the Northern Virginia Local Motor Vehicle License Compact 

The City of Alexandria cannot accept online or phone payments for parking citations issued to booted or impounded vehicles or to vehicles cited for failure to display a City vehicle decal (violation codes 3-2-336, 10-4-37, or 10-4-37.1). The boot or decal violation must be resolved before the parking citation may be paid and verification is currently not automated. You may pay in person at City Hall or mail the payment together with proof that you have purchased and paid for the decal.  For assistance, please contact the City's Treasury Division by email or by telephone at 703.746.3902.

3. How do I contest a parking citation? 

On September 21, 2013, the Alexandria City Council voted to close the Parking Adjudication Office. The Office closed on December 31, 2013.  

Vehicle owners who wish to contest a parking citation must fill out a District Court Affidavit. Hearings must be scheduled in advance and cannot be scheduled by physically appearing at General District Court. To schedule a hearing for District Court, the vehicle owner must complete a District Court affidavit (one for each citation contested), have it notarized, and mail it with copies of the parking citation and his or her driver's license to City of Alexandria, P.O. Box 1423, Alexandria, VA, 22313-1423. Please note that the affidavit must be signed in the presence of a Notary. (More detailed information about the parking adjudication and General District Court hearing processes is available in the Contesting a Parking Citation F.A.Q.)

4.  How do I avoid getting a parking citation? 

City of Alexandria and Virginia parking restrictions and vehicle requirements differ in some ways from those in many other states and localities.  For information on avoiding parking citations, please refer to the Parking Facts page, which provides information on avoiding the most common parking citations, including citations related to City decals and parking permits, as well as quick facts on City parking restrictions. For a full listing of City Code sections related to parking requirements and restrictions, please visit the Parking Citations page.

5. For more information... 

For more information on parking citations and other parking issues, please see our Parking page or our full online list of Parking Fines.

Back to Top 

 


Real Estate Taxes

1. How much real estate tax do I owe? 

You may view your current real estate tax balance by searching on our online Real Estate Tax History and Payment page.

2. How do I contest an assessment? 

Your real estate tax liability is based on the annual property assessment conducted by the Department of Real Estate Assessments. Please see the Real Estate Assessment Review and Appeal Process information provided by that department.

3. Can I get a payment plan for real estate tax or otherwise pay in installments? 

The Treasury Division offers the Automatic Bank Debit Program homeowners wishing to pay real estate taxes in monthly installments or two lump-sum payments directly from their checking accounts. Tax Services & Enforcement offers payment plans for residents experiencing financial difficulties who may not be able to pay their taxes on time.

4. What programs are available to assist with the payment of real estate tax? 

The City offers Real Estate Tax Relief for Elderly or Totally Disabled Persons to assist with payment of the real estate tax. Veterans who have been classified as having a 100 percent permanent and total disability by the Department of Veterans Affairs and, in some cases, their surviving spouses are also exempt from real estate tax on their primary residences.

5.  How do I change my mailing address for real estate tax billing? 

To update the address to which your real estate tax bills and correspondence are mailed, you must update the mailing address on file with the Department of Real Estate Assessments (DREA) and should contact that department for instructions.  Please note that the Finance Department is required by law to mail the biannual real estate tax bills and related correspondence to either the owner's mailing address on file with DREA or to the owner's mortgage company (whichever is applicable).  Finance Department staff cannot update the mailing/billing address on file.
 

6. For more information... 

For more information on real estate taxes and property assessments, please see the Real Estate Tax page and/or the Department of Real Estate Assessments.

Back to Top 


Operating a Business in the City

1. How do I start a business in the City of Alexandria? 

The steps involved in starting a business in the City differ depending on the type of business. However, all persons (including corporations, partnerships and individuals) doing business in the City of Alexandria are required to file and, if applicable, pay the business license tax (within 30 days of starting business) and the business personal property tax as well as registering the business, obtaining zoning approval, and complying with City Building/Dwelling Code regulations. For more information on opening a business in the City of Alexandria, please see the Tax Guide for New Businesses.  For information on registering a non-profit organization in the City of Alexandria, please see the Licensing and Tax Guide for Non-Profit Organizations.

2.  What types of taxes/license fees must I pay? 

All persons (including corporations, partnerships, and individuals) doing business in the City of Alexandria are required to file and (if operating as a for-profit business or as a non-profit organization with taxable activities) to pay the business license tax and business personal property tax. Other business-related taxes depend on the type of business conducted. For a complete listing of all business-related taxes, including taxes that some businesses must collect from their customers, please see the Business Tax page.

For caterers and in regards to the city meals tax, the City of Alexandria Code of Ordinances imposes a meals tax at the rate of four percent of the total charge upon “each and every meal sold in the city in or from a restaurant, whether prepared in the restaurant or not and whether consumed on the premises or not.” The Code does not exclude caterers and in fact, specifically includes caterers in its definition of restaurant. Our Code does not specifically address situs, however, Virginia Code § 58.1-3841 stipulates that the situs for taxation for any tax levied on the sale of food and beverages or meals shall be the county, city, or town in which the sales are made, namely the locality in which each place of business is located.

3. How and when do I renew my business license? 

You must file a business license renewal application and pay any applicable business license tax by March 1 of each year. Staff will mail a renewal application to you each year. If you do not receive one within three weeks of the due date, contact the City by email or call 703.746.3903.

4. What do I have to do if I want to change my business location? 

If you want to change your business location to another address within the City of Alexandria, you must fill out a new Interdepartmental Form and obtain all required zoning and code approvals as well as any permits that may be required, such as health permits. This process should be completed prior to relocating. For additional assistance or information, please contact:

    Business Tax
    703-746-3903
    Email: Email button 
 

For in-person assistance, you may come to the address below during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.:

    Tax Services
    301 King Street, Room 1700
    Alexandria, VA 22314
 

5. How do I close my business license tax account when I cease business? 

Simply inform the City that you have ceased business by filling out and returning the cessation of business form. Forms for calendar year 2013 and prior years can be found here.

6. For more information... 

For complete information on City of Alexandria business taxes, please see the Business Tax page.  For additional information on opening a business in the City, please see the Tax Guide for New Businesses.  For information on registering a non-profit organization with the City, please see the Licensing and Tax Guide for Non-Profit Organizations.  For information on meetings, events, seminars, and other resources for businesses provided by the Commonwealth, the City, and/or the City's partner organizations, please see Events, Courses, and Resources for City Businesses.

Back to Top 


Payments and Due Dates 

1.  When are my taxes due? 

For a complete listing of tax due dates, please see the Finance Calendar.

2. How do I pay taxes and citations? 

The City offers a number of convenient options for paying taxes and parking citation fines.

  • For general payment information, see Six Easy Ways to Pay
  • For payment instructions specific to a particular tax type, please see the Alexandria Tax Guide and click on the relevant tax. 
  • To have your real estate tax automatically debited from your checking account in two lump sum payments or in monthly installments, please review the Automatic Bank Debit Program.
  • If you are experiencing financial difficulties and need information about payment plans for City taxes, please see Tax Services & Enforcement.

3. Can I pay by credit or debit card in person at City Hall? 

Yes.  You can pay by Visa, MasterCard, or Discover Card at the payment kiosk in Room 1700.  You can also pay with Discover Card at the Treasury Division's cashier windows in Room 1510.  Discover Card charges a fee for this service.  Please note that the Treasury Division does not accept American Express, Visa, MasterCard, or debit cards at the cashier windows. 

4. Why doesn't Treasury take American Express, Visa, Mastercard or debit cards at the cashier windows? 

Treasury does not accept American Express, Visa, or MasterCard at the cashier windows because these companies require the City to pay the convenience fee while Discover allows us to charge this fee to the payor. Because the City of Alexandria is a nonprofit organization funded by taxpayers and the State, we minimize expense where the benefit is restricted to the individual payor.  Treasury does not accept debit cards at the cashier windows at this time due to software constraints.

Please note that the payment kiosk in Room 1700 of City Hall does accept payment by credit or debit card.  In addition, you may make credit or debit card payments online or by phone. See Six Easy Ways to Pay for more information.

5. Why can't I pay my DMV Block with a check, eCheck or credit card? 

Virginia law requires that the City receive payment of all overdue taxes, penalties, interest, and fees before removing a DMV Block. Since the payor can cancel payment on checks, eChecks and credit cards, these do not constitute receipt of payment until they are processed and cash payment is received from the payor's financial institution or credit card company. Payment for DMV Blocks must, therefore, be received in certified funds (cash, money order or cashier's check) in order for staff to remove the block at the time of payment.

 


Delinquent Taxes, Tax Filings, and Parking Citation Fines

1. What happens if I miss a payment due date? 

If you miss a due date for a tax payment or parking citation fine, the City will assess a late payment penalty and/or interest.  If the account is later classified as delinquent and submitted for collections, the City may assess administrative/collection fees to cover the cost of collection.

  • For Taxes: The late payment penalty is $10 or ten percent of the tax due, whichever is greater, on all tax accounts paid after the due date.  No penalty may exceed the amount of the tax billed.  Interest on all delinquent taxes accrues at an annual rate of ten percent the first year and five percent each year thereafter until all taxes and penalties are paid.  For delinquent personal property tax accounts with balances of $20 or more, the City will also assess administrative fees to cover the cost of collections on a per vehicle per year basis.  The administrative fee is $20 for balances between $20 and $49.99 and $45 for balances of $50 or more.    
  • For Parking Citation Fines:  A late payment penalty of $25 will be added to the original fine for any citation not paid by the due date.  After three notices, the City may ask the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to immobilize the vehicle and assess a $20 administrative fee to cover the cost of the program. If your outstanding citation(s) is referred to a collection agency, you will be subject to additional collection fees amounting to 20 percent of the original amount due.

If you do not receive a tax bill three weeks prior to the due date, you should contact the Treasury Division by email or by phone at 703.746.3902 to determine the total amount due and/or receive a duplicate copy of the bill.

2. What happens if I miss a filing deadline? 

If you miss a filing deadline, the City will assess a late filing penalty.  The amount of the penalty will depend on the tax type:

  • Personal Property Tax:  All vehicles must be registered for personal property tax within 30 days of purchase or within 30 days of moving into the City.   After an additional 90 day grace period, the City assesses a late filing penalty of $10 or five percent of the tax due from the taxpayer, not to exceed the amount of the tax payable by the taxpayer.  
  • Business Personal Property Tax: Business personal property tax returns must be filed by May 1 of each year.  The City assesses a late filing penalty of ten dollars or five percent of the tax due, whichever is greater, for failure to file a business personal property tax return by the due date. In no case may a late filing penalty exceed $500 if a return is filed within the first 30 days after the due date. If the tax filing is more than 30 days late, the late filing penalty is five percent of the total tax due amount. 
  •  All Other Taxes:  The City assesses a penalty of $10 or ten percent of the tax due, whichever is greater, for failure to file a return.The penalty may not exceed the amount of the tax.  Information on the filing dates for other taxes can be found in the Alexandria Tax Guide

In some cases, the City may also statutorily assess the tax due and bill accordingly.

3. Can late payment penalties, interest, and administrative fees be waived? 

Penalty and interest may only be waived in cases of late payment when one of the following conditions is met:

  • The taxpayer can substantiate, with his or her own affidavit and a supporting statement from the postal service, that the tax filing or tax payment, although postmarked subsequent to the due date, was in fact mailed on or before that date; or
  • It is substantiated through appropriate documentation that the taxpayer died in the six-month period immediately preceding the tax due date or that the taxpayer was, for medical reasons, incapable of making the payment on the due date; or
  • For real estate taxes, the tax bill is mailed to a prior owner of the taxpayer's property after a deed of transfer has been recorded but before the City's assessment records have been updated.

In most cases, a taxpayer or vehicle owner who qualifies for a waiver of penalty and interest will also qualify for a waiver of the administrative/collection fee.  Please note that, under Virginia law, penalty, interest, and administrative/collection fees cannot be waived due to the taxpayer's failure to receive a tax bill.

4.  What collection programs does the City use? 

The City uses a variety of internal and external collection methods and programs, the costs of which may be passed on to the taxpayer or vehicle owner (in the case of parking citation fines) as described above.  For detailed information on delinquent tax collection, please visit Tax Services & Enforcement.  For information on programs used to collect delinquent parking citation fines, please click here.

5.  What if I can't pay my outstanding tax balance due to financial difficulties? 

If you cannot pay your outstanding tax balance due to financial difficulties, you may come in person to City Hall, Room 1700, during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., to establish a payment plan (a formal, signed agreement between you and the City that spreads the total tax liability over time).  Please note that the payment plan is designed only to stop legal action for collection of delinquent taxes.  Late payment penalties will still be applied, and interest will still accrue.  The typical payment plan requires that you make an initial payment of 20 percent of the outstanding balance due then pay the remaining balance in installments over a time period designated by the City.

Back to Top 

 

301 King St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
703.746.3900
Fax: 703.838.4987
E-mail

Office Hours:
Monday - Friday
8 a.m. - 5 p.m.