A lot of people wonder if there’s a way to make college students register their cars here so they’ll have to pay personal property taxes. The best way might be to ask them.
Granted, students already pay taxes to the city, directly and indirectly. The apartments they live in pay real estate taxes. They eat in restaurants more, and pay the meals tax. They pay sales taxes at Harrisonburg’s businesses.
And if they have cars, their parents pay the car tax on those vehicles in Virginia Beach, Chesterfield County, Norfolk and Fairfax County. Even though Harrisonburg’s tax rate is lower.
We should be encouraging the parents of our college students to register their cars here and pay their taxes here. They pay less, but the city makes more. And if those other localities think that’s unfair, they can always lower their tax rates to match ours.
There might be a legal reason we can’t do this. It’s often the case that the best ideas haven’t been tried because the state or the feds won’t let us. That might mean we can’t do those things. But it doesn’t mean we should stop thinking about them.