This article is the first in a series I am going to be writing which focus on a common topic. The fact the Virginia sucks. Having spent a good part of my childhood in Virginia, and having completed my undergraduate education in the state… I’m sorry the commonwealth… which styles itself “the mother of presidents”, I have an intimate knowledge of the depths to which that state is willing to plumb. In describing many of these to one of my office mates, he came up with the best explanation for all of Virginia’s problems I have ever heard: “Virginia sucks”.

I’ll leave the general explanation for another article and cover here just one particular way in which Virginia sucks: Its tax law.

Unlike more civilized states, Virginia feels that taxation is not a process of citizens funding the government, but rather the natural exercise of an entitlement the state has with respect to your money. Evidently if any mistake is made during the process of taxation, no matter who is at fault, Virginia shakes down the tax payer for more money. Here are some of the more egregious portions of the law in question:

  • YOU owe more money if the government mailed your bill to the wrong address — What one assumes this portion of the tax law (enacted in the 1981-82 Report of the Attorney General 393, March 25, 1982) is attempting to account for is when a false address is given by the taxpayer. However this portion of the code also applies if the Treasurer has the correct address, and failed to properly mail the bill. I ran into this particular clause myself once. In my case the treasurer’s office actually had the correct address, but had transcribed the address wrong when it was forwarded to the billing department. So I ended up owing penalty fees because of mistakes Virginia made, even though the treasurer’s office admitted the mistake was theirs. To top matters off, it was a special tax assessed to new residents of the county, whose due date was not publicized outside of the mailed bills. Good to know the taxpayer exists as the cash cow of the state.
  • YOU owe more money if the government lies to you, or misrepresents the tax law — According to portions of the tax code enacted in the 1981-82 Report of the Attorney General 350, May 13, 1982, if a taxpayer receives erroneous information from a government official, whether in writing, from personal conversation, or over the phone, the taxpayer is still responsible for the correct tax amount.
  • YOU owe more money if the government billed you for the wrong amount — This is perhaps the worst of the bunch (enacted in the 1986-87 Report of the Attorney General 321, July 31, 1986). It doesn’t matter to the state of Virginia that you payed the bill they mailed you, if they billed you for an incorrect amount, you owe penalties. Given the fact that your owed taxes changes from year to year due to assessment changes, tax relief, and new taxes, it is nearly impossible for an individual to figure out their property taxes, car taxes, and other fees. So why are the taxpayers responsible for the mistakes of the government during billing?

Given that Virginia Code Section 58.1-9 and 58.1-3916 prohibits the waiving of any fees, interest, or penalties, it quickly becomes obvious how stupid, evil, and greedy Virginia tax law is. The law itself is designed to screw over the taxpayer whenever mistakes are made, even though the taxpayer had no control over these mistakes. This sort of attitude and law stems from a deep disrespect of the taxpayer, and an attitude that the government is simply entitled to these taxes, regardless of its own incompetence.

Any decent state would include provisions absolving its tax payers of liability in the case of mistakes made by the government. Unfortunately, Virginia is not a decent state. I would ask how any state could act in such an evil and greedy fashion, but the answer is obvious. Because Virginia sucks.

-Angry Midwesterner