As an individual, you likely have to pay personal property tax each year. For most, this means paying a tax on personal vehicles, boats, and motor homes. You normally get a bill from the city or county you live in, and pay the tax to them.
Each year, a business also pays tax on the tangible property used in the business or trade. Unlike an individual, the business owner self-reports the property used in their business.
Each business is different, and the property reported is different. However, here are the general guidelines:
The business must report:
- All office equipment including furniture, fixtures, furnishings, operating equipment, computers, peripherals, hand tools, power tools, books, machinery, and other such tangible property.
- All NON-LICENSED vehicles and trailers. Tractors, office trailers, storage trailers, etc. If it has a license plate on it, do not report it.
Basically, if the item can be considered a ‘tool’ or ‘property’ and will last more than a year, list it. If it is something that you consume in your business or that wear out quickly (like cleaning rags, gloves, a tape measure, chemicals) or something you use on or leave with a customer customers (mulch, nail polish, hair spray, etc.), don’t list it.
For a new business owner, it can be confusing to know exactly what to list. So, here are some examples:
|EVERYONE||Dedicated home office items. If you have a computer and desk for the EXCLUSIVE use of your business, list them.||Personal use items, like the kitchen table or the family computer, even if that’s where you do some paperwork.|
|Cleaning / janitorial / maid service company||Vacuum cleaners, floor buffers, and related equipment.||Items like a bucket, cleaning rags, cleaning solution, etc. These are all consumable items.|
|Lawn care / landscaper||Lawn mowers, power tools, hand tools like rakes and shovels, and any trailers. If your trailer has a license plate, don’t list it.||Gloves, fuel, oil, mulch, or any other type of consumable item.|
|Home Repair / Handyman||Power tools, hand tools, ladders, and trailers. If your trailer has a license plate, don’t list it. Note: you normally don’t need to list hand tools individually. You can list ‘bag of asst. hand tools’, with the value of the lot.||Personal protective equipment (like a hard hat, gloves, etc.), or any type of consumable item.|
|Home Inspector||Ladders, Camera (if you have a dedicated camera for the inspection. If you are using your cell phone, don’t list it.)|
|Hair/Nail Professionals (not salons)||Clippers, hand dryer, scissors.||Uniforms (smocks), any chemicals, nail polish, or accessories.|
|Uber/Lyft Drivers||Possibly a GPS.||Anything else. Your vehicle is your ‘tool’ and is covered by your Personal Property Tax.|
Below are links for city/county business property tax forms
|City (click city name for form)||Due Date||Notes|
|Portsmouth||3/1||As of 2/3/18, Portsmouth does not have their 2018 form posted on their website|
|Roanoke and Vinton||2/1||Note early filing date|
|Salem||2/15||Note early filing date|
|Suffolk||5/1||Note late filing date|