Northampton Reduces Farm Equipment Tax Rate

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By Stefanie Jackson – Northampton supervisors approved the county’s tax rates for the 2021 tax year Tuesday night, including a decrease in the tax rate for farm equipment, which one supervisor had proposed during a previous meeting.

The farm equipment tax rate fell from $1.20 per $100 of assessed value to $0.99 per $100 of assessed value, the same tax rate charged for boats.

Supervisor Betsy Mapp had suggested during the May 25 supervisors meeting that equipment farmers require to earn a living should not be taxed at a higher rate than pleasure boats.

Chairman Dixon Leatherbury had added that some Virginia counties charge no taxes on farm equipment, and Northampton’s farm equipment tax rate is one of the highest in the state.

Supervisors agreed to lower the farm equipment tax rate May 25 but had to wait at least seven days before they could vote to approve the tax rates.

None of Northampton’s tax rates were raised, even though the real estate tax rate appeared to have been raised half a cent, from $0.83 per $100 of assessed value to $0.835 per $100 of assessed value.

Finance Director John Chandler explained that the real estate tax rate technically had not increased, but it represented the tax equalization rate that was calculated when real estate values were reassessed in 2020.

Virginia Code prohibits localities from using real estate reassessments to increase their tax revenues, so when reassessments are done, Northampton adjusts its real estate tax rate so that it may receive no more or less tax revenue than the previous year.

If property values go up, the real estate tax rate goes down; if property values go down, the tax rate goes up, creating an equalization.

Chandler said, “That’s not a tax increase or a tax decrease, it’s part of the math.”

In another matter, Mapp said Northampton had 805 cases of COVID-19 and 36 deaths attributed to COVID-19 during the pandemic.

“So we came out relatively unscathed” compared to other Virginia counties, Mapp said.