History of the Commissioner of the Revenue
In 17th c. Virginia, tax assessment was initially the
responsibility of the Governor and his Privy Council. This worked well
until the growth of the colony forced change. The Governor appointed a
sheriff for each sire. Among the duties of the sheriff was tax
assessment. In the mid 1600’s, the responsibility for tax assessments
was transferred from the sheriffs to the county courts, which was often
delegated to special appointees by the court justices. However, during
the Revolutionary War, the need for increased taxes placed an extreme
burden on the system of having court justices make assessments, and as a
result, the General Assembly provided for commissioners of tax.
After experimenting with various assessment procedures under the
Commissioner of Tax, the General Assembly created Commissioners of
Revenue in 1786. As the number of individuals and items subject to
taxation rose, the importance of the commissioner’s task grew.
Consequently, they acquired constitutional stature in 1851.
The Commissioner of the Revenue holds office as an agent for the
state, as well as the local government, and is the assessing officer on
the local level for those taxes prescribed by the state law and local
ordinance. As such, the office serves as a bridge between the local
level of government and the state legislature.
The office administers all taxes and programs as provided for in
the Code of Virginia and is directly accountable to the citizens.