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Lawsuit filed against county over past boat taxes

A Fairfax man wants a judge to declare Stafford County in the wrong for sending him tax bills on his boat, before it would be sent to auction.

Martin Mann filed a suit in Fairfax County Circuit Court earlier this month arguing he is not liable for four year’s worth of personal property taxes because his boat was assessed in a neighboring county, and he paid taxes there.

A Stafford county attorney said at an injunction hearing last week that the boat wouldn’t be put up for a distress sale while the suit was ongoing, Mann said. It’s unclear when the case will continue.

Mann, an attorney who lives in Fairfax and practices in Falls Church, has named the Board of Supervisors, Commissioner of Revenue Scott Mayausky and Treasurer Laura Rudy in the suit. He’s being represented by Stafford attorney George Marzloff.

The suit “does not contest the assessed value or the resultant tax but only the methods applying to proration and exemption.”

Mann says his boat was assessed in Prince William County, where he paid personal property taxes from 2009 to 2012. The county’s tax is a fraction of penny, making most bills negligible.

According to the suit, in November 2011, Mann received a bill from Stafford for his boat He replied that his boat was exempt from the tax, because of his paid tax receipt in Prince William.

Stafford assesses boats in its marinas and at homes on Jan. 1 each year. The suit states that the boat was not located within the county on the first of the year for any of the past four years, nor 2013.

In the suit, Mann says he received another tax bill for the first half of 2012, along with the past-due 2011 bill. Twice last fall, the suit states that funds were seized from his personal checking account because of the delinquent taxes. He then received retroactive bills for 2009 and 2010.

A tax lien was filed with the U.S. Coast Guard, which holds the boat’s registration, along with Wells Fargo Dealer Service, which holds the boat’s first mortgage, the suit states.

Mann worried his boat will be forced to be sold at auction. He’s asking the court to declare him not liable for the personal

property taxes, and to cancel all liens that were filed.

Related: Stafford’s Board of Supervisors is considering a reduction or elimination of the boat tax as part of this year’s budget. (This would have no impact on taxes in previous years.)

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