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New taxes, fees kick in for roads

SoVaNow.com / July 01, 2013
New laws take effect in Virginia today, bringing changes for individuals and businesses in a variety of areas, from farming to transportation to health and safety.

Some of the more prominent new laws include:

The transportation bill. To address Virginia’s road-building and maintenance backlog, the General Assembly and Gov. Bob McDonnell agreed to a mix of tax changes and fee increases expected to generate about $1.2 billion annually.

Key revenue components of the transportation package include:

The elimination of the state’s 17.5 cent-per-gallon tax on motor fuels, to be replaced by a 3.5 percent tax on the wholesale cost of gas and 6 percent on diesel fuel. Drivers of cars, pickup or panel trucks and vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less will be eligible for a 2.5 percent refund on diesel fuel taxes.

Initially, the wholesale tax will translate into lower prices at the pump. AAA Mid-Atlantic recently issued a statement predicting that the gas tax would drop from 17.5 cents a gallon to an effective 11.7 cents per gallon through the end of this year (the new percentage tax will be recalculated every six months). It may take a few days for price changes to show up at the pump, however, as dealers and suppliers adjust to the shift in how gasoline is taxed.

The law also imposes a $64 annual registration fee on hybrid electric motor vehicles, alternative fuel vehicles, and electric motor vehicles.

Also under the new transportation law, sales and use taxes will rise across Virginia from 5 percent to 5.3 percent; in special transportation districts in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, the sales tax will jump to 6 percent. The additional revenue generated in those traffic-clogged regions will go to regional transportation authorities.

Fuel taxes could rise further if Congress fails to pass legislation leveling sales taxes on Internet transactions. The General Assembly anticipates using money from the Internet sales tax to shoulder a portion of the financial burden of new roads.

Lastly, car buyers will be affected by the new law. The motor vehicle titling tax is rising from 3 percent to 4.15 percent. Under the old rate, the tax on a $20,000 car was $600. With the new rate, it’ll be $830.

Renewable energy production. The State Corporation Commission is directed to set up a pilot program to enable individuals to sell electricity from solar- or wind-powered generators to third parties on the electric grid. The renewable power facilities must generate between 50 kilowatts and 1 megawatt to be eligible for the program. A separate law directs the SCC to set up a net energy metering program for agriculture producers who operate wind, solar or biomass digester facilities of up to 500 kilowatts.

Workers compensation benefits for public safety officers injured in weather-related accidents. The legislation was inspired by the case of Timothy Mull, a Mecklenburg County deputy who received spinal injuries when a tree toppled in a rainstorm and fell on his police cruiser. Mull was unable to collect workers compensation benefits after the county’s insurer ruled that his injuries were exempt under act-of-God provisions. The new law fixes that.

Hunting, fishing and watercraft operations. The legislature made a number of changes in laws affecting outdoors activities such as hunting, fishing and boating. Some highlights:

Virginia residents 65 or older will be able to purchase lifetime saltwater fishing licenses for $5.

Landowners will be allowed to trap or shoot fur-bearing animals, including muskrats and raccoons, on their property during the closed season when the animals are causing damage to crops or property or posing a nuisance.

Owners of watercraft of a particular size and type must apply for and obtain a certificate of title, lowering the minimum boat length for which a title is required from 18 feet to 16 feet for boats owned or purchased after July 1, 2014. The law makes other changes affecting watercraft and becomes effective July 1, 2014.

The new laws came out of the 2013 General Assembly session in which 2,575 bills and resolutions were introduced. Of that number, only 31 percent were signed into law.





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Comments

I thought it was a good thing to be green and try to save fuel so we can become independent of foreign oil,but Virginia will be known in the future as "greed" instead of "green" for adding a hybrid tax to people that are just trying to do their part. Shame on our governor!


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