Loudoun Considers Moving Up Business Property Tax Filing Deadline

Loudoun supervisors are considering moving the filing deadline for the business tangible personal property tax deadline from April 15 to March 1. The change could give the county better revenue forecasts but the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce worries it may increase costs to businesses.

The proposal would not change the payment deadline or amount due. According to a staff report from Commissioner of the Revenue Robert S. Wertz Jr., revenues from the tax have increased significantly over the years, from $70 million in 2013 to about $155 million in 2016, mostly because of data center growth.

Because it is a self-reported tax, it is difficult for the county to predict revenues from the tax. Wertz says the earlier deadline would give the county a better idea of what tax revenues to expect before setting the real estate tax in April. But the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, while not openly opposing the measure, has worried it could put an additional burden on businesses, and has encouraged businesses to reach out to their supervisors if they have concerns.

Businesses both file and pay another tax, the Business Professional and Occupational License tax, on March 1. Chamber leaders expressed concerns that moving the tangible personal property tax to the same date would increase confusion and concentrate workload around one due date. It would also move the filing date away from the federal income tax filing date.

“For many businesses, particularly small or sole proprietor businesses, keeping up with regulatory requirements, like tax filings, can be a significant cost in terms of money and time,” the chamber wrote.

The Chamber’s government affairs manager, Brian Fauls, asked the board to delay a vote on the matter to give the county and business community more time to figure out unintended consequences.

“If it does improve the accuracy of the county’s revenue forecast, which could lead to a more stable or even lower real property tax rate, that’s a benefit for all Loudouners,” Fauls said at a public hearing Dec. 14. “We get that. Having said all that, it is not time-sensitive to do this tonight and we would ask you to do just a little more due diligence.”

Wertz said he had reached out to 10 of the county’s biggest businesses, but heard back from only one, Amazon Web Services.

“Speak now or forever hold your peace, because I understand there were concerns, and I’m not completely convinced that all these concerns have been allayed,” said Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles). “But at the same time, nobody’s here other than the Chamber to communicate those to us. Absent those concerns, I will support this item, because I see the benefits.”

If approved, the new deadline would take effect in 2018. The board voted unanimously to forward the decision to a January meeting.

rgreene@loudounnow.com

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