Fairfax Co. retirees hit by higher taxes amid soaring property values

July 17, 2023

DC News Now

By Hayley Milon

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (DC News Now) — Homeowners in Fairfax County will see a 7% increase in taxes this year, thanks to higher home valuations.

Tax bills, which reflect home valuations rising 9% and tax rates being cut by 2%, are due by July 28.

“We’re literally taxing our seniors out of the county. (The) demographics show that more people have left Fairfax County… each year in the last 10 years than have come to Fairfax County,” Supervisor Pat Herrity (Springfield District) said.

Herrity proposed an alternative tax plan, under which taxes would’ve risen 5%. He said his office has been inundated with questions and complaints from constituents about tax bills.

“50% over the last 10 years, you know, almost 7% this year,” Herrity said.

Herrity said most people don’t see their tax bill because payments are built into mortgages; but for homeowners with no loans who owe a lump sum annually, tax fluctuations make a substantial impact on household budgets.

John Kostin, who retired from his federal government job in 2003, lives in the Springfield District and said his tax bill was several hundred dollars more than he’d thought it would be.

“What you do? Is cut back on something else. I’m actually not taking a vacation this year,” he said. “Just cutting back on things. Because, you know, my pension isn’t going up.”

His friend and fellow Springfield District resident John Reflo said retirees are fleeing the area.

“A lot of my friends have left the area,” Reflo said. “Many people here are on federal retirement, which goes up with inflation. But on the other hand, inflation has gone up a lot more.”

Herrity said the county should prioritize filling vacant office space to drive tax revenue. He added that he opposed budgetary boosts to affordable housing and to school district administrative positions.

“The real problem is an unrestrained spending problem by this Board of Supervisors,” he said.

He added that affordable housing strains homeowners.

“I mean, we are building basically luxury housing for a select group of people and we trap them in there because if they don’t, their incomes grow. They have to go into worse housing. So, they there’s no incentive to grow out of that tax subsidy,” he said.

Other supervisors have argued that affordable housing is essential to economic growth in the county, and affordable housing projects provide the workforce essential to area businesses. Drainsville District Supervisor John Foust told DC News Now in June that the county is making substantial strides towards its goal of adding 10,000 affordable housing units by 2034.

“We’re very fortunate in Fairfax County to have as strong an economy as we have,” Foust said. “There are very few things that are going to stop us from continuing to have a great economy. One of those things that hang out there would be a lack of housing that’s affordable for our workforce.”

The county offers support for homeowners who meet certain age, income and net worth criteria:

  • If the total combined income is $60,000 or less, you are eligible for 100% relief.
  • If the total combined income is $60,001 to $70,000, you are eligible for 75% relief. (Does not apply for 2022 and prior year taxes. This bracket will result in 50% relief for tax year 2022.)
  • If the total combined income is $70,001 to $80,000, you are eligible for 50% relief.
  • If the total combined income is $80,001 to $90,000, you are eligible for 25% relief.