Confusion surrounds delegate’s personal property tax records 

By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV

Public records would seem to indicate that Del. Mike Honaker, R-Greenbrier, who in July authored an editorial entitled “Protect American People from IRS Overreach,” has not paid personal property taxes for years and now seems to be rectifying that. 

As of July 31, the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Office tax database contains neither record of Honaker paying personal property taxes for his vehicle, nor reporting ownership thereof. Funds received by the county from these taxes go towards schools, police departments, fire services, and other community needs. 

In 2018, Honaker began working as Director of Greenbrier County Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) after previously living and working in Virginia. On July 12 of this year, he resigned from that position. 

In 2020, Honaker first registered to vote in Greenbrier County. He voted in the primary and general elections in both 2020 and 2022. 

After the resignation of former Del. Barry Bruce in Dec. 2021, Honaker was appointed by Gov. Jim Justice to fill the vacancy. Honaker was officially elected to the position in Nov. 2022. During his campaign, Honaker frequently spoke in favor of eliminating the state’s personal property tax. 

In February 2022, Honaker requested and was issued a special legislative license plate from the W.Va. Division of Motor Vehicles (WVaDMV). At this time, Honaker registered the title to his vehicle in the State of West Virginia.

West Virginia state law says in §11-5-1, “All personal property belonging to persons residing in this state, whether such property be in or out of the state, and all personal property in the state, though owned by persons residing out of the state, shall be entered in the personal property book, and be subject to equal and uniform taxation.”

A public records report of Honaker’s vehicle shows that it was purchased in 2014 and registered in Virginia. Although Honaker had been working in West Virginia since 2018, the registration of his vehicle was not transferred until 2022 – after he was appointed delegate. 

Records indicate that Honaker did not report his personal property when his residency began in 2018, when he began voting in 2020, or when he re-registered his vehicle in 2022. As of the afternoon of July 31, Greenbrier County has no record of Honaker owning any personal property within the state. 

When reached for comment on the afternoon of July 31 as to whether he failed to report his personal property and pay the taxes, Delegate Honaker said, “That could be true.” 

He explained that when he moved to Greenbrier County, he switched his driver’s license but was unable to switch his vehicle registration. “The guidance I got from the state police was, ‘You own a home and property in Virginia, you don’t have to switch your tags over.”

Concluding his response, Honaker said, “I paid my vehicle and dog tax today. That’s an incredible coincidence.” 

An employee of the Greenbrier Sheriff’s Department confirmed that Honaker “left some blank checks” at the office on the afternoon of July 31. The employee confirmed a citizen must be assessed before they can pay. Honaker, the employee understood, was going to contact the assessor’s office Tuesday to receive an assessment and the employee was then to fill out the blank checks Honaker left Monday. 

According to the Greenbrier County Assessor’s Office, self-reporting is the only means to enter personal property in the tax book. If a citizen does not disclose their personal property as required by law, then they are not charged. The law does not contain an enforcement mechanism, and there are no checks and balances from the W.Va. DMV. 

While the WVaDMV does sometimes allow “dual registration” for temporary residents, Honaker seemingly would not meet the criteria as his permanent residency in West Virginia has been well established. WVaDMV did not return our request for comment on Honaker’s particular registration situation.

Reached for comment, the Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles (VaDMV) confirmed that Honaker owns property in Pulaski County, and pays both  real estate and personal property taxes in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Since Virginia vehicle records are private, they declined to comment on where Honaker’s vehicles are registered. 

“If I need to pay this year’s as well as last year’s,” Honaker said, “I will do it.”

At publishing time, Honaker’s payments were yet to be available in the public records system. Stay tuned to RealWV for updates. 

Facebook
Twitter
Reddit
Email

Related stories

Give us your feedback