By Christian Smith
This Tuesday, Virginia voters will have the opportunity to vote on three constitutional amendments. Ballots will include three questions that specify which article of the Constitution is up for change and the change that is being considered. The questions are listed and explained below.
Question 1: “Shall Section 6 of Article X of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to authorize legislation that will permit localities to establish their own income or financial worth limitations for purposes of granting property tax relief for homeowners not less than 65 years of age or permanently and totally disabled?”
Explanation: Currently the law requires that there be “an extraordinary tax burden” on homeowners who are at least 65-years-old or permanently and totally disabled. The change would take out the “extraordinary tax burden” requirement and allow localities to independently determine income or financial worth minimums for homeowners who are at least 65-years-old or permanently and totally disabled to be exempt from taxes.
Question 2: Shall the Constitution be amended to require the General Assembly to provide a real property tax exemption for the principal residence of a veteran, or his or her surviving spouse, if the veteran has a 100 percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability?
Explanation: If passed, the amendment will compel the Virginia General Assembly to exempt veterans who are permanently and totally disabled due to a service related injury from paying local real estate taxes on their primary home. This exemption would also apply the surviving spouse as long as they keep the residence as their primary home and do not remarry.
Question 3: Shall Section 8 of Article X of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to increase the permissible size of the Revenue Stabilization Fund (also known as the “rainy day fund”) from 10 percent to 15 percent of the Commonwealth’s average annual tax revenues derived from income and retail sales taxes for the preceding three fiscal years?
Explanation: The Commonwealth has a rainy day fund. It decides what the amount of that fund should be by averaging the previous three years’ income and retail sales taxes collected by the state. Currently, the fund is limited to 10 percent of that average and the amendment would increase it to 15 percent.