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2016 SESSION


CHAPTER 346
An Act to amend and reenact 58.1-609.3, 58.1-3660, and 58.1-3661 of the Code of Virginia, relating to sales and use tax exemption and real and personal property tax exemption; solar and wind energy equipment, facilities, and devices.
[H 1305]
Approved March 11, 2016

 

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That 58.1-609.3, 58.1-3660, and 58.1-3661 of the Code of Virginia are amended and reenacted as follows:

58.1-609.3. Commercial and industrial exemptions.

The tax imposed by this chapter or pursuant to the authority granted in 58.1-605 and 58.1-606 shall not apply to the following:

1. Personal property purchased by a contractor which is used solely in another state or in a foreign country, which could be purchased by such contractor for such use free from sales tax in such other state or foreign country, and which is stored temporarily in Virginia pending shipment to such state or country.

2. (i) Industrial materials for future processing, manufacturing, refining, or conversion into articles of tangible personal property for resale where such industrial materials either enter into the production of or become a component part of the finished product; (ii) industrial materials that are coated upon or impregnated into the product at any stage of its being processed, manufactured, refined, or converted for resale; (iii) machinery or tools or repair parts therefor or replacements thereof, fuel, power, energy, or supplies, used directly in processing, manufacturing, refining, mining or converting products for sale or resale; (iv) materials, containers, labels, sacks, cans, boxes, drums or bags for future use for packaging tangible personal property for shipment or sale; or (v) equipment, printing or supplies used directly to produce a publication described in subdivision 3 of 58.1-609.6 whether it is ultimately sold at retail or for resale or distribution at no cost. Machinery, tools and equipment, or repair parts therefor or replacements thereof, shall be exempt if the preponderance of their use is directly in processing, manufacturing, refining, mining or converting products for sale or resale. The provisions of this subsection do not apply to the drilling or extraction of oil, gas, natural gas and coalbed methane gas. In addition, the exemption provided herein shall not be applicable to any machinery, tools, and equipment, or any other tangible personal property used by a public service corporation in the generation of electric power, except for raw materials that are inputs to production of electricity, including fuel, or for machinery, tools, and equipment used to generate energy derived from sunlight or wind. The exemption for machinery, tools, and equipment used to generate energy derived from sunlight or wind shall expire June 30, 2027.

3. Tangible personal property sold or leased to a public service corporation engaged in business as a common carrier of property or passengers by railway, for use or consumption by such common carrier directly in the rendition of its public service.

4. Ships or vessels, or repairs and alterations thereof, used or to be used exclusively or principally in interstate or foreign commerce; fuel and supplies for use or consumption aboard ships or vessels plying the high seas, either in intercoastal trade between ports in the Commonwealth and ports in other states of the United States or its territories or possessions, or in foreign commerce between ports in the Commonwealth and ports in foreign countries, when delivered directly to such ships or vessels; or tangible personal property used directly in the building, conversion or repair of the ships or vessels covered by this subdivision. This exemption shall include dredges, their supporting equipment, attendant vessels, and fuel and supplies for use or consumption aboard such vessels, provided the dredges are used exclusively or principally in interstate or foreign commerce.

5. Tangible personal property purchased for use or consumption directly and exclusively in basic research or research and development in the experimental or laboratory sense.

6. Tangible personal property sold or leased to an airline operating in intrastate, interstate or foreign commerce as a common carrier providing scheduled air service on a continuing basis to one or more Virginia airports at least one day per week, for use or consumption by such airline directly in the rendition of its common carrier service.

7. Meals furnished by restaurants or food service operators to employees as a part of wages.

8. Tangible personal property including machinery and tools, repair parts or replacements thereof, and supplies and materials used directly in maintaining and preparing textile products for rental or leasing by an industrial processor engaged in the commercial leasing or renting of laundered textile products.

9. Certified pollution control equipment and facilities as defined in 58.1-3660, except for any equipment that has not been certified to the Department of Taxation by a state certifying authority pursuant to such section.

10. Parts, tires, meters and dispatch radios sold or leased to taxicab operators for use or consumption directly in the rendition of their services.

11. High speed electrostatic duplicators or any other duplicators which have a printing capacity of 4,000 impressions or more per hour purchased or leased by persons engaged primarily in the printing or photocopying of products for sale or resale.

12. From July 1, 1994, and ending July 1, 2016, raw materials, fuel, power, energy, supplies, machinery or tools or repair parts therefor or replacements thereof, used directly in the drilling, extraction, or processing of natural gas or oil and the reclamation of the well area. For the purposes of this section, the term "natural gas" shall mean "gas," "natural gas," and "coalbed methane gas" as defined in 45.1-361.1. For the purposes of this section, "drilling," "extraction," and "processing" shall include production, inspection, testing, dewatering, dehydration, or distillation of raw natural gas into a usable condition consistent with commercial practices, and the gathering and transportation of raw natural gas to a facility wherein the gas is converted into such a usable condition. Machinery, tools and equipment, or repair parts therefor or replacements thereof, shall be exempt if the preponderance of their use is directly in the drilling, extraction, refining, or processing of natural gas or oil for sale or resale, or in well area reclamation activities required by state or federal law.

13. Beginning July 1, 1997, (i) the sale, lease, use, storage, consumption, or distribution of an orbital or suborbital space facility, space propulsion system, space vehicle, satellite, or space station of any kind possessing space flight capability, including the components thereof, irrespective of whether such facility, system, vehicle, satellite, or station is returned to this Commonwealth for subsequent use, storage or consumption in any manner when used to conduct spaceport activities; (ii) the sale, lease, use, storage, consumption or distribution of tangible personal property placed on or used aboard any orbital or suborbital space facility, space propulsion system, space vehicle, satellite or space station of any kind, irrespective of whether such tangible personal property is returned to this Commonwealth for subsequent use, storage or consumption in any manner when used to conduct spaceport activities; (iii) fuels of such quality not adapted for use in ordinary vehicles, being produced for, sold and exclusively used for space flight when used to conduct spaceport activities; (iv) the sale, lease, use, storage, consumption or distribution of machinery and equipment purchased, sold, leased, rented or used exclusively for spaceport activities and the sale of goods and services provided to operate and maintain launch facilities, launch equipment, payload processing facilities and payload processing equipment used to conduct spaceport activities.

For purposes of this subdivision, "spaceport activities" means activities directed or sponsored at a facility owned, leased, or operated by or on behalf of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority.

The exemptions provided by this subdivision shall not be denied by reason of a failure, postponement or cancellation of a launch of any orbital or suborbital space facility, space propulsion system, space vehicle, satellite or space station of any kind or the destruction of any launch vehicle or any components thereof.

14. Semiconductor cleanrooms or equipment, fuel, power, energy, supplies, or other tangible personal property used primarily in the integrated process of designing, developing, manufacturing, or testing a semiconductor product, a semiconductor manufacturing process or subprocess, or semiconductor equipment without regard to whether the property is actually contained in or used in a cleanroom environment, touches the product, is used before or after production, or is affixed to or incorporated into real estate.

15. Semiconductor wafers for use or consumption by a semiconductor manufacturer.

16. Railroad rolling stock when sold or leased by the manufacturer thereof.

17. Computer equipment purchased or leased on or before June 30, 2011, used in data centers located in a Virginia locality having an unemployment rate above 4.9 percent for the calendar quarter ending November 2007, for the processing, storage, retrieval, or communication of data, including but not limited to servers, routers, connections, and other enabling hardware when part of a new investment of at least $75 million in such exempt property, when such investment results in the creation of at least 100 new jobs paying at least twice the prevailing average wage in that locality, so long as such investment was made in accordance with a memorandum of understanding with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority entered into or amended between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2008. The exemption shall also apply to any such computer equipment purchased or leased to upgrade, add to, or replace computer equipment purchased or leased in the initial investment. The exemption shall not apply to any computer software sold separately from the computer equipment, nor shall it apply to general building improvements or fixtures.

18. (Effective until June 30, 2020) Beginning July 1, 2010, and ending June 30, 2020, computer equipment or enabling software purchased or leased for the processing, storage, retrieval, or communication of data, including but not limited to servers, routers, connections, and other enabling hardware, including chillers and backup generators used or to be used in the operation of the equipment exempted in this paragraph, provided that such computer equipment or enabling software is purchased or leased for use in a data center that (i) is located in a Virginia locality, (ii) results in a new capital investment on or after January 1, 2009, of at least $150 million, and (iii) results in the creation on or after July 1, 2009, of at least 50 new jobs by the data center operator and the tenants of the data center, collectively, associated with the operation or maintenance of the data center provided that such jobs pay at least one and one-half times the prevailing average wage in that locality. The requirement of at least 50 new jobs is reduced to 25 new jobs if the data center is located in a locality that has an unemployment rate for the preceding year of at least 150 percent of the average statewide unemployment rate for such year as determined by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership or is located in an enterprise zone. This exemption applies to the data center operator and the tenants of the data center if they collectively meet the requirements listed in this section. Prior to claiming such exemption, any qualifying person claiming the exemption, including a data center operator on behalf of itself and its tenants, must enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority that at a minimum provides the details for determining the amount of capital investment made and the number of new jobs created, the timeline for achieving the capital investment and new job goals, the repayment obligations should those goals not be achieved, and any conditions under which repayment by the qualifying data center or data center tenant claiming the exemption may be required. In addition, the exemption shall apply to any such computer equipment or enabling software purchased or leased to upgrade, supplement, or replace computer equipment or enabling software purchased or leased in the initial investment. The exemption shall not apply to any other computer software otherwise taxable under Chapter 6 of Title 58.1 that is sold or leased separately from the computer equipment, nor shall it apply to general building improvements or other fixtures.

18. (Effective June 30, 2020) Beginning July 1, 2010, and ending June 30, 2020, computer equipment or enabling software purchased or leased for the processing, storage, retrieval, or communication of data, including but not limited to servers, routers, connections, and other enabling hardware, including chillers and backup generators used or to be used in the operation of the equipment exempted in this paragraph, provided that such computer equipment or enabling software is purchased or leased for use in a data center that (i) is located in a Virginia locality, (ii) results in a new capital investment on or after January 1, 2009, of at least $150 million, and (iii) results in the creation on or after July 1, 2009, of at least 50 new jobs associated with the operation or maintenance of the data center provided that such jobs pay at least one and one-half times the prevailing average wage in that locality. The requirement of at least 50 new jobs is reduced to 25 new jobs if the data center is located in a locality that has an unemployment rate for the preceding year of at least 150 percent of the average statewide unemployment rate for such year as determined by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership or is located in an enterprise zone. Prior to claiming such exemption, any qualifying person claiming the exemption must enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority that at a minimum provides the details for determining the amount of capital investment made and the number of new jobs created, the timeline for achieving the capital investment and new job goals, the repayment obligations should those goals not be achieved, and any conditions under which repayment by the qualifying person claiming the exemption may be required. In addition, the exemption shall apply to any such computer equipment or enabling software purchased or leased to upgrade, supplement, or replace computer equipment or enabling software purchased or leased in the initial investment. The exemption shall not apply to any other computer software otherwise taxable under Chapter 6 of Title 58.1 that is sold or leased separately from the computer equipment, nor shall it apply to general building improvements or other fixtures.

58.1-3660. Certified pollution control equipment and facilities.

A. Certified pollution control equipment and facilities, as defined herein, are hereby declared to be a separate class of property and shall constitute a classification for local taxation separate from other such classification of real or personal property and such property. Certified pollution control equipment and facilities shall be exempt from state and local taxation pursuant to Article X, Section 6 (d) of the Constitution of Virginia.

B. As used in this section:

"Certified pollution control equipment and facilities" shall mean any property, including real or personal property, equipment, facilities, or devices, used primarily for the purpose of abating or preventing pollution of the atmosphere or waters of the Commonwealth and which the state certifying authority having jurisdiction with respect to such property has certified to the Department of Taxation as having been constructed, reconstructed, erected, or acquired in conformity with the state program or requirements for abatement or control of water or atmospheric pollution or contamination. Such property shall include, but is not limited to, any equipment used to grind, chip, or mulch trees, tree stumps, underbrush, and other vegetative cover for reuse as mulch, compost, landfill gas, synthetic or natural gas recovered from waste or other fuel, and equipment used in collecting, processing, and distributing, or generating electricity from, landfill gas or synthetic or natural gas recovered from waste, whether or not such property has been certified to the Department of Taxation by a state certifying authority. Such property shall also include solar energy equipment, facilities, or devices owned or operated by a business that collect, generate, transfer, or store thermal or electric energy whether or not such property has been certified to the Department of Taxation by a state certifying authority. For solar photovoltaic (electric energy) systems, this exemption applies only to (i) projects equaling 20 megawatts or less, as measured in alternating current (AC) generation capacity, for which an initial interconnection request form has been filed with an electric utility or a regional transmission organization on or before December 31, 2018; (ii) projects equaling 20 megawatts or less, as measured in alternating current (AC) generation capacity, that serve any of the public institutions of higher education listed in 23-9.5 or private college as defined in 23-9.10:3; (iii) 80 percent of the assessed value of projects for which an initial interconnection request form has been filed with an electric utility or a regional transmission organization after January 1, 2015, and greater than 20 megawatts, as measured in alternating current (AC) generation capacity, for projects first in service on or after January 1, 2017, (iv) projects equaling 5 megawatts or less, as measured in alternating current (AC) generation capacity, for which an initial interconnection request form has been filed with an electric utility or a regional transmission organization on or after January 1, 2019, and (v) 80 percent of the assessed value of all other projects equaling more than 5 megawatts, as measured in alternating current (AC) generation capacity for which an initial interconnection request form has been filed with an electric utility or a regional transmission organization on or after January 1, 2019. Such property shall not include the land on which such equipment or facilities are located. The exemption for solar photovoltaic (electric energy) projects greater than 20 megawatts, as measured in alternating current (AC) generation capacity, shall not apply to projects upon which construction begins after January 1, 2024. Such property shall not include the land on which such equipment or facilities are located.

"State certifying authority" shall mean the State Water Control Board, for water pollution; the State Air Pollution Control Board, for air pollution; the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, for coal, oil, and gas production, including gas, natural gas, and coalbed methane gas; and the Virginia Waste Management Board, for waste disposal facilities, natural gas recovered from waste facilities, and landfill gas production facilities, and shall include any interstate agency authorized to act in place of a certifying authority of the Commonwealth.

58.1-3661. Certified solar energy equipment, facilities, or devices and certified recycling equipment, facilities, or devices.

A. Certified solar energy equipment, facilities, or devices and certified recycling equipment, facilities, or devices, as defined herein, are hereby declared to be a separate class of property and shall constitute a classification for local taxation separate from other classifications of real or personal property. The governing body of any county, city or town may, by ordinance, exempt or partially exempt such property from local taxation in the manner provided by subsection D.

B. As used in this section:

"Certified recycling equipment, facilities, or devices" means machinery and equipment which is certified by the Department of Environmental Quality as integral to the recycling process and for use primarily for the purpose of abating or preventing pollution of the atmosphere or waters of the Commonwealth, and used in manufacturing facilities or plant units which manufacture, process, compound, or produce for sale recyclable items of tangible personal property at fixed locations in the Commonwealth.

"Certified solar energy equipment, facilities, or devices" means any property, including real or personal property, equipment, facilities, or devices, excluding any portion of such property that is exempt under 58.1-3660, certified by the local certifying authority to be designed and used primarily for the purpose of collecting, generating, transferring, or storing thermal or electric energy.

"Local certifying authority" means the local building departments or the Department of Environmental Quality. The State Board of Housing and Community Development shall promulgate regulations setting forth criteria for certifiable solar energy equipment. The Department of Environmental Quality shall promulgate regulations establishing criteria for recycling equipment, facilities, or devices.

C. Any person residing in a county, city or town which has adopted an ordinance pursuant to subsection A may proceed to have solar energy equipment, facilities, or devices certified as exempt, wholly or partially, from taxation by applying to the local building department. If, after examination of such equipment, facility, or device, the local building department determines that the unit primarily performs any of the functions set forth in subsection B and conforms to the requirements set by regulations of the Board of Housing and Community Development, such department shall approve and certify such application. The local department shall forthwith transmit to the local assessing officer those applications properly approved and certified by the local building department as meeting all requirements qualifying such equipment, facility, or device for exemption from taxation. Any person aggrieved by a decision of the local building department may appeal such decision to the local board of building code appeals, which may affirm or reverse such decision.

D. Upon receipt of the certificate from the local building department or the Department of Environmental Quality, the local assessing officer shall, if such local ordinance is in effect, proceed to determine the value of such qualifying solar energy equipment, facilities, or devices or certified recycling equipment, facilities, or devices. The exemption provided by this section shall be determined by applying the local tax rate to the value of such equipment, facilities, or devices and subtracting such amount, wholly or partially, either (i) from the total real property tax due on the real property to which such equipment, facilities, or devices are attached or (ii) if such equipment, facilities, or devices are taxable as machinery and tools under 58.1-3507, from the total machinery and tools tax due on such equipment, facilities, or devices, at the election of the taxpayer. This exemption shall be effective beginning in the next succeeding tax year, and shall be permitted for a term of not less than five years. In the event the locality assesses real estate pursuant to 58.1-3292, the exemption shall be first effective when such real estate is first assessed, but not prior to the date of such application for exemption.

E. It shall be presumed for purposes of the administration of ordinances pursuant to this section, and for no other purposes, that the value of such qualifying solar energy equipment, facilities, and devices is not less than the normal cost of purchasing and installing such equipment, facilities, and devices.

2. That the provisions of this act shall become effective January 1, 2017.