Sheridan responds to business personal property tax proposal

Fluvanna County’s proposed business personal property tax slash will likely come with a $200,000 tax break for the area’s businesses, Commissioner of Revenue Mel Sheridan confirmed Feb. 8.

Supervisors are considering gutting the business personal property tax rate to $1.89 per $100 valuation, down from the current rate of $4.35. The point of the decrease would be to make Fluvanna look more competitive to potential businesses.

The Board had hoped to implement the tax cut in a revenue-neutral way so as to avoid a $200,000 tax loss to the county. The loss would have the additional effect of nudging the county’s tax base more toward the homeowner rather than toward the business owner, which has been the county’s goal.

County Administrator Steve Nichols has suggested changing the way business personal property taxes are assessed to bring the rules more in line with how business personal property is actually used. The proposed changes could also allow the tax cut to be implemented revenue-neutrally.

But while supervisors have the authority to set tax rates, they do not establish the rules by which those taxes are assessed. That responsibility falls to Sheridan. Before Feb. 8 he had not commented publicly on whether he intended to change the rules.

“I’m not planning on it,” Sheridan said to the Fluvanna Review. “We’re beyond the first of the year. I’ve got to establish the procedures businesses are going to be working under before the first of the year.”

Last December Sheridan mailed letters to businesses that outlined how they will need to report their business personal property. They need to submit their reports by March 15, he said.

“Changing the procedures and policies at this point would be pulling the rug out from under them. I like to be sure we have the rules in place before the game begins,” Sheridan said.

“As we approach next year, I certainly will consider changes we might want to institute for 2018,” he said. “If supervisors want to make some recommendations I’d be happy to entertain them.”