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Proposed tax law changes criticized by county

January 20, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Referring to the move as "outrageous," Jefferson County officials on Thursday criticized a bill passed in the House of Delegates that will reduce the amount of tax people have to pay on vacation homes in the area.

Vacation homes were taxed at a higher Class 3 commercial rate as a result of state legislation passed in 2003 dealing with tax issues, said Del. Bob Tabb, D-Jefferson.

Now, there is an effort to return vacation homes to a Class 2 rate, Tabb said.

There has been a push to return vacation homes to the lower rate for people in other parts of the state who are facing the higher tax on structures such as hunting cabins, Tabb said.

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The bill that would resume the lower tax rate for vacation homes, known as House Bill 4037, passed unanimously in the House of Delegates Thursday, Tabb said.

Local officials expressed concern at Thursday's Jefferson County Commission meeting about how the bill would affect the area.

Many people have bought second homes in the Eastern Panhandle and some people have purchased town houses in the area to simply hold them for a few years and then sell them for a profit.

The possibility of lowering the tax rate for second homes is going to be appealing for businesses involved in selling recreational homes, but some officials are concerned that it's going to hurt full-time residents of the area because of the possibility of their taxes having to be increased to offset the revenue that would be lost if the bill is passed, Commissioner Dale Manuel said.

Manuel said he is not sure how it might affect the area because he has not studied the numbers.

"The problem is it screws the rest of us," Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Michael D. Thompson told the commission. "I think it's particularly outrageous,"

Commissioner Rusty Morgan was taken aback by the bill.

"I just don't see how they can propose sweeping changes to the tax code without looking at the whole picture," Morgan said.

Tabb said he did not think there was a large number of second homes in the area.

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