West Virginia has become an attractive investment option for real estate owners. Not only is the area beautiful and exciting, but it's also affordable compared to other states in the U.S.
When you want to invest in real estate, something you must always keep in mind is property taxes. These property taxes help fund projects by local governments and public services, such as parks, fire stations, and more.
According to the West Virginia Tax Division, all real and tangible personal property is subject to property tax. Thankfully, you won't have to spend too much time calculating how much you owe for your West Virginia property.
All you need is the right information, and you'll be good to go.
Understanding your property tax bills, however, can sometimes get confusing, especially considering that most counties have different rules surrounding taxation and exemptions.
Before buying a property in West Virginia, the first thing you must do is learn how to calculate your potential tax bill. Here, you'll learn everything you must know about West Virginia property taxes, including when they're due, how much you may owe, and more.
About Property Tax in West Virginia
West Virginia's property taxes are easy to understand, for the most part. The state follows the same system as many others, where the property tax is based on the assessed value of the home and the total tax rate.
In West Virginia, the assessed value of a property equals 60% of the appraised value. You'll get an updated assessed value every property tax year. If you made any significant improvements or changes to the property, you may expect a different assessed value.
According to the State constitution, properties are divided into four classes:
- Class I: Intangible personal property. It also applies to specific personal property used in agriculture.
- Class II: Residential property used for residential purposes. It also applies to farm land used for agricultural purposes by a bona fide tenant or the owner.
- Class III: All property outside a municipality that's not part of Class I or Class II.
- Class IV: All property inside a municipality that's not part of Class I or Class II.
Most of the time, you would fall into the "Class II" category, which refers to properties used for residential purposes.
Taxes in West Virginia are collected every year by a county assessor. These are also called "ad valorem" taxes.
When Are Property Taxes Due in West Virginia?
You'll get your tax bill mailed by July 15th of the calendar tax year. West Virginia State calls these bills "tickets."
How do property taxes work here? You'll have to pay them either in full or in two installments. The first installment is due September 1st, whereas the second one is due March 1st of the next property tax year.
You may get a discount of 2.5% on the property taxes paid if you pay before these due dates.
If your pay installments miss the deadlines (October 1st for the first one and April 1st for the second one), your payment will become delinquent. Property owners could face penalties and other legal consequences if they don't pay their taxes when they're due.
What Are the Consequences of Late Payments?
The first notable consequence is that your owed taxes accrue interest, specifically 9% every year. West Virginia State gives property owners three years from their missed deadline to pay what they owe.
If you don't pay your property taxes in time, the county could get the legal right to start a foreclosure process on your property. Then, it could hold an auction for the property in a tax sale. Here's what the timeline looks like:
The local county commission will get a "delinquent list" by May 15th each year. The list is sent to the State Auditor's office by June 1st.
These entities will get a second list of delinquent properties by September 10th. If you haven't paid your taxes by October 31st, your property will be certified to the State Auditor's office. In this case, it would be set in a public auction by March 1st.
You can "redeem" your property by paying all your bills plus interest and other expenses. However, you must do it before the property gets certified to be held in an auction. In some cases, you could still pay before a tax deed is issued.
Keep in mind you'll pay different interest fees depending on whether you pay before certification or before the deed is issued.
How to Pay Property Taxes in West Virginia
County assessors will calculate each property's assessed value by July 1st. You can start calculating your tax bill from there.
As to how you pay your taxes, it depends on the county. Most areas in West Virginia allow you to pay by:
- In person
Make sure you check with your local county assessor's office for more information and choose the method that feels more convenient.
How Much Are Property Taxes in West Virginia?
According to NerdWallet, the current average effective property tax rate is 0.55%, which compared to the national average of 0.99%, is fairly low. West Virginia currently has the 10th lowest state rate in the U.S., which is excellent news for real estate investors.
Your West Virginia property taxes are based on your local tax rate and the property's assessed value. Keep in mind that your assessed value can be based on the real market value of the property, but it's not equal to it. Assessed values get updated annually based on market data and other factors, but you can expect reappraisals at least once every three years.
Once you get your assessed value, you'll use that number and your local tax rate to calculate how much you may owe. Below is more information on how to calculate your property taxes correctly.
How Is Property Tax Calculated in West Virginia?
The process to calculate your property tax bill isn't too complicated. All you have to do is divide your assessed value by 100 and then multiply that by your tax rate.
This is because the total tax rates in West Virginia are expressed as cents per hundred dollars in assessed value. If your home had a market value of $100,000, for example, you would get an assessed value of $60,000. This is because of West Virginia's "60%" rule.
Now, if your local taxing district has a rate of 70, you would have to divide the $600,000 by 100 and then multiply that result by your tax rate.
The first operation would give you $600. If you multiply that by 70 (0.7), you'll get $420. This would be your approximate tax bill.
An interesting factor to consider is that the State limits how much taxing authorities can levy on certain properties. These would be the limits:
- State: 0.5
- County: 28.6
- School: 45.9
- Municipal: 25
These levy limits could be increased by a general referendum by up to 50% for five years. The only exception is the school extra levy, which can go up to 100% above the limit.
Can People Lower Their Property Tax Rates?
You could reduce your tax burden with a few methods. First, you can appeal your property tax bills if you feel like your home was wrongly appraised. You must file a petition with your county circuit court within 30 days of receiving the report. This doesn't guarantee you'll get a lower bill.
You could still apply for property tax exemptions to save some money. However, not everyone is eligible. Here are the most common exemption types you may find in West Virginia counties:
A homestead exemption could remove up to $20,000 of your property's assessed value. However, you must be at least 65 years old and occupy your property as your primary residence to apply.
You will not be eligible for this exemption if you haven't paid taxes for that primary residence for two consecutive taxable years or if you received a homestead exemption in other states.
Senior Citizen Tax Credit
If you qualify for the homestead exemption, you could also request a tax credit. It gives homeowners a refundable credit against taxes paid for the first $20k of the property's taxable assessed value.
You may also have to meet income limit requirements to apply for this tax assistance program.
Permanent and Total Disabled Veterans
Disabled veterans can get up to $20,000 off their property's assessed value if they were residents of West Virginia when they entered active duty. You would need to remain resident after being discharged, and you'd also need to get a certificate from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs to confirm that your disability is related to your service.
West Virginia is an excellent investment option for many people, especially those looking for lower property tax rates.
As long as you take your time to calculate your tax bill on time, you'll be able to meet your payments and avoid any legal issues with your county.