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Commonwealth's Counties

Real Property Tax Exemption Constitutional Amendments Moving Forward toward Expected November Referendum

Constitutional amendments must pass in identical form once prior to a General Assembly election and once afterwards prior to being placed before the voters for approval via referendum.  A pair of amendments, HJ 45 (Tran) and SJ 3 (McPike), passed in 2023 and have advanced in both chambers this session.  These amendments expand the current real property tax exemption for the surviving spouses of servicemembers who are killed in action to the surviving spouses of servicemembers who die in the line of duty, with a Line of Duty determination from the United States Department of Defense.  HB 558 (Hernandez)/SB 4 (McPike) place the amendments on the November 2024 ballot, and SB 240 (McPike) implements the expanded exemption, effective January 1, 2025, contingent on voter approval of the referendum in November 2024.

Other Constitutional amendments will not move forward this session since the traditional cycle for the initial consideration of an amendment would begin in the 2025 session.  A measure of interest to local governments, HJ 58 (Carr), was stricken in House Privileges and Elections (a version of this amendment passed the Senate in 2023 but failed in the House).  This proposal would have allowed the General Assembly to authorize local governing bodies to provide for a total or partial real property tax exemption for certain long-time low-income homeowners.  The amendment would require the authorizing legislation to stipulate that the real property was designed for single-family habitation and owned and occupied as the owner’s sole dwelling for a minimum number of years, that the assessment had increased by a prescribed percentage, and that the taxes were current, or that the owner had entered into a plan for payment of any delinquent taxes.  The implementing legislation would also establish the annual household income limits to qualify for the exemption.

VACo Contact:  Katie Boyle

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