Franklin D. Edmondson, MCR
Commissioner of the Revenue
City Hall Building
801 Crawford Street
Portsmouth, VA. 23704
Office of the Commissioner
of The Revenue
FAQ - Personal Property Taxes
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
FOR PORTSMOUTH RESIDENTS
The following questions and answers provide
basic information to assist taxpayers in understanding the
assessment of personal property taxes on motor vehicles.
1. What is generally considered personal property for
Automobiles, trucks, recreational vehicles, motorcycles,
trailers, boats, airplanes, mobile homes, business furniture,
fixtures, equipment, and machinery and tools used in the
2. How is the amount of tax to be levied on personal
The Portsmouth City Council establishes personal property tax
rates each year. The actual tax is then computed by multiplying
the property's assessed value by this rate. Additional
information on current tax rates can be obtained by calling
757-393-8779 or emailing
3. How is personal property assessed?
The Commissioner of the Revenue is required to determine the
assessed value of motor vehicles based on a recognized pricing
guide, if available, or a percentage of the original cost. The
pricing publications used are the National Automobile Dealers
Association official used car guide and the official older car
guide. The value taken from these books is the average loan
value. If the vehicle is not listed in the guide, the value will
be based on a percentage of purchase price or a percentage of
the prior year's assessment.
4. What personal property is prorated?
The prorating of personal property taxes applies to motor
vehicles, trailers and boats. This includes automobiles, trucks,
motorcycles, recreational vehicles, and other vehicular
equipment requiring registration through the Virginia Department
of Motor Vehicles.
Mobile homes are prorated quarterly.
Airplanes, and business personal property are not prorated.
5. What does prorating of personal property taxes mean?
The term prorating refers to the authority of a locality to
collect personal property taxes on a pro rata basis-- that is,
generally for the portion of the year that an item is located
there. Prorating means that the tax assessed on a motor vehicle
or trailer will be prorated on a monthly basis based upon the
number of months that it maintains situs in Portsmouth, or is
owned by the taxpayer.
6. Where may local tax returns be filed?
Personal property tax returns may be filed by mail or in person
at the Office of the Commissioner of the Revenue. The office is
located on the first floor of the City Hall 801 Crawford Street
Portsmouth, VA 23704.
7. If I move out of Portsmouth during the tax year or
sell my motor vehicle during the tax year, am I eligible for a
refund of the personal property tax paid?
Yes, in most situations. If you move out of Virginia altogether
or into another Virginia locality that prorates personal
property taxes, or sell or dispose of a motor vehicle, your
personal property tax for that vehicle will be prorated. You
will receive a credit or a refund of taxes paid for that portion
of the remaining year, provided that all other taxes and debts
due the city have been paid. Approximately 40 localities in
Virginia prorate personal property taxes on motor vehicles. If
you move out-of-state, you are required to provide a copy of the
new state vehicle registration before your tax bill can be
A temporary absence from the City of Portsmouth does not make
you eligible for a prorated refund.
8. Can I appeal my personal property assessment?
Yes. The property's assessed value as of January 1st will be used
as the basis for the personal property tax. If you feel your
vehicle is below average condition because of mechanical
malfunctions, excessive mileage or other reasons, you may appeal
your assessment for an individual review of your vehicle's
If the vehicle is damaged prior to January 1st and has not been
repaired, an assessment appeal form may be filed.
Click here for the
Appeal Information/Instructions and Form.
9. What is “Filing by Exception”?
All residents of Portsmouth are required to register their motor
vehicles with the Office of the Commissioner of the Revenue only
once. Persons with new information to report or with changes are
required to file.
10. What is the filing deadline for reporting personal
property other than vehicles?
The filing deadline for reporting airplanes, business personal
property, and machinery and tools is March 1st.
11. When is my personal property tax payment due?
Taxes on all personal property in the City of Portsmouth are due
on June 5th of that year. Taxes on motor vehicles and trailers
that are moved into the city after this date will receive a
supplemental bill that will be due thirty (30) days from the
date the bill was issued.
12. When selling or disposing of a motor vehicle or
trailer, do I need to notify anyone?
Yes. Both the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and the
Commissioner of the Revenue's office must be notified within 30
days. This is the citizen's responsibility and not that of the
motor vehicle dealer or new owner. You may contact
DMV at 804-497-7100
13. What are my tax obligations if I am an active duty
military person maintaining Portsmouth as my legal residence?
Under the Soldier's And Sailor's Civil Relief Act, your tax
liability would be to the City of Portsmouth regardless of where
you may be stationed or where your vehicle may be garaged or
located during the year.
14. As an active duty member of the military, would I be
taxed for personal property in Portsmouth if I maintained a
legal domicile in a state other than Virginia?
If you reside in Portsmouth by virtue of military orders, you may not be taxed in Portsmouth on personal property titled in the active duty military member's name, property titled jointly with your spouse, or property titled in the name of your spouse only. To determine your eligibility for non-taxable status, you must present the active duty military member's L.E.S., your spouse's current military ID and your spouse's current drivers license, for each tax year and with each additional vehicle purchased. Military members or spouses claiming Virginia as their legal state of domicile are taxable. Leased personal property is also taxable.
15. How does the City of Portsmouth determine the tax
exempt status of military service personnel?
All military personnel will receive a Portsmouth Military Vehicle Registration which will list all the vehicles currently registered in the name shown on the pre-printed form. If any information on the form is incorrect you must make the necessary changes and return the form to the Commissioner of the Revenue. You must provide a current copy of LES (leave and earnings statement) along with the registration. Once the registration and LES are properly received and your eligibility for non-taxable status has been determined, your vehicle account will be coded exempt from personal property tax.
16. What vehicles are eligible for tax relief?
Per the guidelines of the state's Personal Property Tax Relief
Act, a vehicle (automobile, motorcycle or truck) is eligible for
tax relief if predominantly used for non-business purposes and
owned or leased by an individual who is responsible for the
payment of personal property tax. A vehicle (automobile,
motorcycle or truck) is ineligible for tax relief if any of the
following apply: (1) More than 50% of the mileage for the year
is for business purposes and is deducted for federal income tax
purposes or reimbursed by an employer; (2) More than 50% of the
depreciation associated with the vehicle is deducted as a
business expense; (3) The cost of the vehicle is expensed
pursuant to Section 179 of the Internal Revenue Service Code;
(4) The vehicle is leased by an individual but the leasing
company pays the personal property taxes by contractual
agreement; (5) The gross weight exceeds 7,500 lbs.