By John Knight, Springfield, VA
SENIORS UNFAIRLY TAPPED FOR COUNTY SCHOOLS SUPPORT
– pay 52% of real estate taxes for schools decades after children gone –
It’s time to address a Fairfax County real estate tax inequity, i.e., the continued full taxation of elderly homeowners who have not had children in the school system for years and years. The average annual real estate tax per household after the recent FY 2017 rate increase is $5,962. 52.2 % of that (a little over $3,100) goes to support the County school system (see the chart, below).
Residential homeowners pay the full real estate tax whether or not they have children in schools. There is never any age at which a homeowner sees a dime’s decrease in his or her taxes. Parents of students do not pay any “tuition.”
My proposal is that elderly homeowners, starting at age 65 or maybe 70, be given a small “tax forgiveness” rebate, funded by a per-student user fee assessed at annual school registration. This would be revenue-neutral to the County. The fee would pass though the County from parents to elderly taxpayers via a tax reduction.
Here’s the math for a hypothetical example for 65-year old and over taxpayers:
- The County’s 2015-16 school enrollment is about 187,000 (K through 12).
- In 2015, there were about 412,000 housing units in Fairfax County (Source: “Demographic Reports 2015, County of Fairfax, Virginia”). In 2014, about 19.1% of housing units were occupied by persons 65 years old or older (Source: U.S Census Bureau, 2014 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates”). So, assume that roughly 19.1 percent of those 412,000 housing units, or 78,692 units, were owned by 65-and-older persons (actual ownership data not available to author).
- An annual school system revenue-neutral “user fee” of $100 per student, paid at the time of annual registration, would yield about $18,700,000 (187,100 students x $100).
- Now, spread the $18,700,000 over about 78,692 housing units (the estimate of housing units owned by folks age 65 and over) and it would yield about $238 per year for each of those senior households ($18,700,000/78,692). That is a very modest 4.0% annual tax “rebate” from the average 2017 tax bill of $5,962 per household.
The Seniors deserve a little break. If you support the concept, contact your Supervisor!