Real Estate Tax Exemption for Surviving Spouses

Code of Virginia (1950) Section 58.1-3219.9, as amended, provides for a state-wide exemption of Real Estate Taxes of qualifying dwellings of surviving spouses of certain members of the United States Armed Forces killed in action. The particulars of the mandated exemption are found in Section 58.1-3219.9 of the Virginia Code. Pertinent details are:

  • Exemption is available to surviving spouses of members of the U.S. Armed Forces who are killed in action. The tax exemption begins on January 1, 2015 for the second half of Fiscal Year 2015 and continues thereafter.
  • The surviving spouse must occupy a "qualifying dwelling" as her/his principal residence. If the qualifying dwelling is occupied by a surviving spouse at the time of the death in action, the exemption will commence on such date. If the surviving spouse acquires a qualifying residence after the date of death, the exemption will commence at the time of acquisition.
  • A qualifying dwelling must have an assessed value in the most recently ended tax year that does not exceed the average assessed value of a dwelling situated on single-family residential zoned property in the City. Single-family homes, condominiums, townhomes, and other types of dwellings that meet the occupancy, zoning, and value requirements are included. The surviving spouse's title to the property may be either fee simple; life tenancy; held in a revocable inter vivos trust that is revocable by the surviving spouse, or held in an irrevocable trust in which the surviving spouse has a life estate or a continuing right of use or support. Leasehold interests are not included. (The Virginia Code allows the locality to limit lot size to 1 acre; however, such limitation cannot be less than the limit placed by the locality on its exemption or deferral of real property taxes for the elderly and disabled. Williamsburg's tax deferral for the elderly or disabled has no acreage limitation. Thus the proposed ordinance does not place any lot size limit.)
  • If a surviving spouse owns the qualifying dwelling with other persons who are not the surviving spouses of members of the U.S. Armed Forces killed in action, the exemption is prorated as provided in subsection (e) of the ordinance.
  • The exemption continues for so long as the surviving spouse does not remarry and continues to occupy the subject property as her/his principal residence. The surviving spouse must promptly notify the director of finance of remarriage.
  • A surviving spouse must file an affidavit or written statement with the director of finance or his designee setting forth the information as required in subsection (f) of the ordinance. There will be no interest payable by the City on any refund due to a surviving spouse for taxes paid on the qualifying property prior to the filing of the required affidavit or written statement. Re-filing is not required except if the surviving spouse's principal residence changes.

For Assistance

City staff members are available to answer your questions and assist you with the tax exemption application process in person or by calling the Real Estate Assessment Office, 401 Lafayette Street, at 757-220-6185 during regular office hours Monday through Friday, 8 am to 4:30 pm.