Manassas Journal Messenger | Manassas has online system to tattle tale on tax evaders

Manassas drivers missing that little red decal on their windshields now have to keep an eye out for more than just the police.

The city has a new online system that allows residents to anonymously report tax evaders. The system, which can be accessed on the city’s Web site, allows property tax whistle-blowers to report violating vehicles by make, year, model, license place or location.

“Folks can report vehicles that don’t have a current decal,” said Revenue Commissioner John Grezjka. “Then we research to make sure we don’t have them in the system. There are a number of reasons that people don’t have a displayed decaled.

“They may have paid the tax, and the decal is sitting in their glove compartment. Or they may have not paid the tax and it’s a vehicle that slips under the radar,” he said.

If a vehicle is reported that has managed to slip under the property tax radar, an assessment will be prepared and sent to the owner, Grezjka said.

These assessments can go back as far as three years, so people who haven’t updated their stickers in a while will be sent a retroactive bill.

Law enforcement across Northern Virginia will soon be stepping up efforts to catch decal violators. The Northern Virginia Compact of Treasurers has issued requests to area law enforcement that personal property tax evaders be caught and ticketed.

Because of the Northern Virginia Compact, local governments across Northern Virginia are networked with law enforcement to catch decal violators. For example, a driver from Loudoun County without an updated decal could be pulled over and ticketed by a Manassas police officer.

Likewise, a Manassas resident without an updated decal could be pulled over and ticketed by local law enforcement in Fairfax, Arlington, Alexandria or any of the cities and counties that participate in the program.

“The compact helps to keep people from slipping between the cracks,” said Manassas Police Chief John Skinner.

People from out of the area who are ticketed have to purchase a decal in their area within 30 days.

City police will be doing their part to catch people violating the decal law, Skinner said.

“People in Manassas will see more checking details, which is a way for us to safely check for decals without creating a large traffic backup,” Skinner said.

A checking detail is when officers station themselves at an intersection with four-way stop signs and flag cars in violation of the decal law.

Though the deadline for the new stickers was Nov. 15, city police have mostly been issuing warnings so far.

“We do that because there are occasions where people are out of town or forget,” Skinner said, “So we try to use a little judgment and discretion and give them a 30-day grace period where we issue warnings.”

Despite the new measures, or perhaps because of them, Manassas doesn’t have a major problem with sticker violators, according to City Treasurer Robin Perkins.

“I don’t really think that it’s a very big problem,” Perkins said. “You see several people riding around with out-of-date decals on their car, but you don’t see lots.”

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