July 20, 2024

What happens if you don’t pay property tax on dogs in WV?

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — Have you ever paid personal property tax on your pet? If not and you live in West Virginia, you might have committed tax evasion without even knowing it.

According to West Virginia Code, county assessors are responsible for collecting a head tax on dogs and cats. The tax is $3 for every dog that is older than six months, but in many cities, there is an additional municipality tax, which usually ranges from $1-5 more.

Here are just a few cities that charge an additional license fee on dogs, if they live inside city limits—and these were just the fees from a quick Google search:

  • Clarksburg
  • Bridgeport
  • Shinnston
  • Philippi
  • Fairmont
  • Fairview
  • Farmington
  • Grant Town
  • Mannington
  • Rivesville
  • Worthington
  • Buckhannon
  • Morgantown
  • Westover
  • Granville
  • Star City
  • Durbin
  • Hillsboro
  • Marlinton
  • Charleston
  • South Charleston
  • St. Albans
  • Dunbar
  • Nitro
  • Huntington
  • Vienna
  • Williamstown
  • Ripley
  • Ravenswood
  • Bluefield
  • Lewisburg
  • White Sulphur Springs
  • Wheeling
  • Moundsville
  • Glendale
  • Sandhill
  • Benwood
  • Charles Town

In some counties, such as Harrison, Barbour, Greenbrier and Jefferson, there is no specific list of cities, but instead, any place “within city limits” has an additional fee.

Most assessor’s offices will require you to specify the age, sex, breed and color of the dogs owned.

The only exceptions from the license/tax are service and guide dogs. In 1998, WV Code was amended to exclude guide and service dogs in 1998. However, they still must be registered as such.

Bills have been introduced to include cats in the head tax and to remove it for household pets entirely, but they were not passed.

What if you don’t pay the tax?

According to WV Code, anyone who doesn’t pay the tax will be reported to the “dog warden” who will keep the dog for 15 for a fee of $1.50. If the tax is not paid after 15 days, the sheriff is allowed to sell the dog to pay the delinquent tax. The WV Code goes on to say, “Should the sheriff fail to sell the dog so impounded within the time specified herein, he or she shall kill such dog and dispose of its body.”

When the tax is paid, the dog is considered registered and the registration tag must be displayed on the dog at all times. Any dog found not wearing a registration tag can be “impounded, sold, or destroyed,” based on WV Code.

The laws regarding dog licensing are not always strictly enforced in West Virginia. An old tax document from Monongalia County estimated that less than half of the dogs in the country are licensed properly.

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