- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 25, 2008

RICHMOND (AP) — Refunds of taxes and fees collected unconstitutionally for Northern Virginia road projects are on their way back to those who paid them.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine today signed a bill passed this year that sets up procedures for returning money collected by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.

Among the refunds:

— The Department of Motor Vehicles will return the 1 percent initial registration fee on new vehicles and the $10 regional registration fee.

— Circuit Court clerks will work to return the grantor’s tax paid on real estate sales.

— The Treasury Department will return the 2 percent levy on car rentals and hotel rooms, the $10 boost in safety inspection fees and the 5 percent sales tax applied to car repairs.

The legislation followed a Virginia Supreme Court ruling on Feb. 29 that concluded that because NVTA was governed by an unelected board, it could not legally collect taxes.

The ruling gutted NVTA and a similar regional transportation taxing authority in Hampton Roads that were major pieces of the Transportation Funding Act of 2007. The centerpiece legislation of last year, it was the first major boost in funding for Virginia roads, rails and transit in a generation.

In Northern Virginia, the increased fees and taxes took effect Jan. 1. It authorized NVTA to raise $300 million a year by levying seven regional taxes and fees and by issuing bonds to pay for highway projects.

In Hampton Roads, where the enactment date was delayed, none of the taxes or fees were collected.

“Some of it will be refunded to you automatically, but there’s a couple of the taxes where it’s unclear exactly” how the money will be returned, Kaine said on his monthly call-in show on WTOP radio in Washington, D.C.

“Folks will have to show that they paid it and they’ll do that through the Department of the Treasury, which handles unclaimed property,” Kaine said.

To clear up confusion, Kaine said, the state set up an instructional Web site: https://www.hb3202.virginia.gov/.

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