County hikes tax on real estate sales

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Tax increase will help pay jail bill

BUCKHANNON — Taxes on transferring real estate property will spike in October, following a recent vote by the Upshur County Commission.
At its Aug. 31, the commission voted to raise the excise tax on the privilege of transferring property from $1.10 per $500 value to $1.65 per $500 value, essentially increasing the tax by 55 cents per $500 value of property. The tax hike will go into effect Oct. 1, according to information provided by the commission.
The county was required to hold a public hearing on the matter, which it did at the Aug. 31 meeting, and publish a Class I legal advertisement, which was printed on July 26, assistant county administrator Tabatha Perry told the commission.
“The purpose of this hearing is to increase the excise tax on the privilege of transferring real property by 55 cents for each $500 worth of value, so the intention would be that the county portion of the excise tax would change from $1.10 per $500 value to $1.65 per $500 value, which is allowed by 2017 regular session Senate Bill 433,” Perry said at the Aug. 31 meeting.
No one appeared to speak at the public hearing; consequently, commissioner Sam Nolte made a motion to approve and sign the order to effectuate the tax increase, which was seconded by commissioner Troy “Buddy” Brady before passing unanimously.  
Senate Bill 433 amended section 11-22-2 of the West Virginia state code during the 2017 regular session, enabling counties to effect the increase in order to generate additional revenue.
Had the increase been in effect for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, the county would have garnered an additional $56,253.49 for its general fund, Perry said Wednesday.
County clerk Carol Smith said the increase will affect anyone who plans on transferring real estate property to another person or entity.
“It’s considered the ‘consideration,’” Smith explained. “If you sell property for $100,000, then the excise tax — or what’s commonly known as ‘transfer stance’ — would be based on that $100,000.”
On Thursday, commission president Terry Cutright said he expects the county will spend the additional revenue generated by the excise tax increase on “three-quarters of one month of the regional jail bill.”
Nolte said, “It’s unbelievable how much it’s gone up,” referring to the monthly jail bill.
Sen. Robert Karnes, R-Upshur, said Thursday he was in favor of Senate Bill 433, which allowed for the tax increase.
“It just essentially gives flexibility to the counties for something that hadn’t been increased in some time,” Karnes said. “I’m very much in support of local control, but they (local government) have to have the resources to do the job that they’ve been charged with doing.”
When the vote took place, Karnes wasn’t present because he was at the governor’s office working on tax reform, he said. However, he noted that he had voted in favor of the bill while it was still in committee.
“If I would have been there, I would have voted for it,” he said.

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