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NEWS | Feb. 6, 2014

Filing personal property taxes: How to for Service members in Hampton and Newport News

By Staff Sgt. Wesley Farnsworth 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

For Service members, finding the time to file personal property taxes paperwork can be a challenge or because of work or deployments.

According to Public law 111-97 signed by President Barrack Obama in November 2009, which is an amendment to the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act, Service members qualify for personal property tax exemption as long as they meet the following criteria:

1. The spouse is absent from his or her state of legal residence solely to be with the service member in compliance with military orders.

2. The Service member and spouse have the same state of legal residence and address, and their state of residence is not Virginia.

3. The vehicles are not used in a trade or business.

The cities of Hampton and Newport News recognize those challenges and offer all Service members living within their counties the option of having a spouse or other representative file on their behalf, or the option of emailing the required paperwork in some cases.

"If you are a single Service member who bought your car in Virginia, then you most likely qualify for this personal property tax break," said Linda Holmes, Hampton Commissioner of Revenue deputy commissioner. "If you are married, then you would need to fill out the 'Military Service Member and/or Spouse' application to get the credit."

If the vehicle is in a military member's name and spouse's name, both have to be a resident of the same state and or home of record in a state other than Virginia to qualify for the personal property tax and Hampton vehicle tax fee exemptions. Those who do qualify normally just have to email, mail, or drop off a copy of their most recent leave and earnings statement to receive the exemption.

Newport News has all the same requirements but requires more paperwork, said Priscilla Bele, City of Newport News commissioner of revenue; we also accept emails with attached documentation and faxed documents.

"If a vehicle is registered under just the Service member, we only require a copy of their LES," said Bele. "However if the vehicle is registered jointly, we require them to fill out an affidavit which must be signed by their spouse, as well as present a copy of their LES and a copy of the front and back of the dependent's identification card and one document confirming their address."

Bele and Strickland both encourage Service members to do their homework and ask questions before purchasing a vehicle.

"We encourage everyone to check with their local commissioner of revenue office before buying a vehicle to make sure they qualify," said Nancy Strickland, Hampton Commissioner of Revenue chief deputy commissioner. "Many times a dealership will tell you that you qualify for this tax exemption just because you are military without doing the homework. Then the service member gets here to find out they don't qualify."

Strickland encourages everyone to do research before expecting an exemption and to contact the commissioner of revenue office if they do get a bill.

"It's hard to go back and fix it after the fact, so we encourage you to check first," Strickland said. "If you don't check and you get a bill in the mail, contact our office, do not ignore it. We are only able to help you if we know what is going on."

No matter what the situation is, the Hampton and Newport New Commissioner of Revenue offices are willing to help Service members get the information they need to receive the exemptions they deserve.

For more information contact the Hampton Commissioners office at 727-6183 or the Newport News Commissioners office at 926-3657.