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State Code Section 58.3952 allows the Treasurer's office to begin collection procedures when taxes or other charges are 30 days past due.
The City Treasurer employs several different methods to collect delinquent taxes and other charges owed to the City.
Fifteen-day Letter - A letter is sent to the taxpayer informing him/her that a terminated public utilities account is past due, and if the account is not paid within the prescribed fifteen days, then collection efforts will be taken against the taxpayer.
Out-of-State Letters - In an effort to decrease the number of out-of-state accounts, the Treasurer’s office mails letters for delinquent parking tickets and delinquent personal property taxes to taxpayers who have moved out of Virginia. The taxpayers are reminded of their obligation to the City, and if their accounts are not resolved within a prescribed time, the Treasurer’s office will proceed to obtain a judgment against the taxpayer. Once judgment is obtained, the judgment will either be docketed in the taxpayer’s jurisdiction or referred to a collection agency. These special efforts must be taken for out-of-state accounts since the Treasurer is not permitted to use her pre-judgment lien and distress powers outside of the Commonwealth.
Lien - On May 6, 2002, the Treasurer and her staff implemented a batch lien program. This program matches employers found through the Virginia Employment Commission system with delinquent taxpayers, automatically calculating the delinquent tax/charge amount and lien fees. This new lien program also automatically tracks lien payments. The new program allows the Treasurer’s office to issue the same amount of liens in a single batch that it previously took a year to process. A copy of the lien is mailed both to the employer and the taxpayer.
Other liens include a bank lien which attaches the funds in the taxpayer’s bank account, and a rent lien. If a property is being rented, the Treasurer will send a rent lien to the renters, and they will pay the City instead of paying their landlord.
Distress Warrant - Under the new batch lien program, if a match is not made with the Virginia Employment Commission system, the program automatically issues a distress warrant and sends it to the Sheriff’s office for service. A deputy serves the warrant to the taxpayer and levies upon personal property that can be sold at an auction to satisfy the debt if the account is not satisfied before the sale date. The new batch lien program allows distress warrants to be printed in zip-code order for deputies to deliver.
Warrant In Debt - The taxpayer is served with a Warrant in Debt indicating a date to appear in court (see Judgment). The Warrant in Debt is also mailed to the taxpayer. If the taxes or charges are paid in full before the court date, the Warrant in Debt will be dismissed. If taxes or charges are not paid in full, the Treasurer’s office will proceed with a Judgment.
Judgment - The taxpayer is served with a Warrant in Debt indicating a date to appear in court. If the taxes or charges are not paid in full before the court date, the Treasurer will proceed to obtain a judgment against the taxpayer. As with all judgments, the credit reporting agencies will add the Treasurer’s judgment to the delinquent taxpayer’s credit report, which aids in collection. After judgment, the Treasurer may continue to use the powers of lien and distress to collect the delinquent amount. A judgment extends the collection ten years, but when recorded in the circuit court, the abstract extends the collection period for another ten years.
DMV Hold - A hold is placed with the Division of Motor Vehicles for all vehicles owned by the delinquent taxpayer. A DMV hold prevents the issuing of the State registration tags until all local taxes are paid.
Payment of the delinquent taxes and any associated collection fees will only be accepted in the form of cash, money order, certified check, or debit card. Payment must be received in the Treasurer's Office prior to the deadline stated in the DMV letter. (Postmarks are not applicable for DMV Holds)
Debt Set Off - Refund money from State Income Tax Returns is held if a taxpayer has delinquent tax bills. The taxpayer is informed that money is being held, and has 30 days to dispute this claim. If the taxes are not paid, the refund money is forwarded to the City to pay delinquent tax bills.
The Treasurer’s office also collects delinquent library fines, terminated public utilities accounts, Emergency Medical Service, parking tickets, and miscellaneous invoices due the City.