Commissioner of the Revenue

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The Commissioner of the Revenue collects revenue for localities. It is one of five locally elected constitutional officers with authority conveyed in the Virginia Constitution. It may refer to the

History of the Office


The position of Commissioner of the Revenue was created by an act of the Virginia General Assembly in 1786. In general, the act attempted to make uniform and permanent the process by which taxes were assessed. Early Virginia Commissioners of the Revenue were charged with the responsibility of assessing the county levy both for personal property taxes and land taxes. The Act of 1786 stipulated that Commissioners were to be elected by the court and that only "discreet and reputable persons" be considered.

Members of either House of Assembly, persons holding any office in civil government, Naval Officers, practicing Attorneys, or Physicians, Clerks of Courts, Inspectors, Ordinary Keepers, Sheriff or their Deputies, or the Collector of public taxes shall not be capable of acting or serving as Commissioner.

The Act provided for as many as three Commissioners for each county at the discretion of the Assembly. In the event of multiple Commissioners, the county was to be divided into districts.[1]

Civil War


During Reconstruction, Virginia was readmitted to the Union under a new constitution. Adopted in 1869, the new Underwood constitution prescribed the most radical changes to the Virginia code in history. Among other things the new constitution attempted to make the form of government in Virginia more uniform. In addition to a Board of Supervisor/City Council form of government for each county and city, the new constitution created five elected constitutional officers for each county and city. Clerks of the Court, Commonwealth Attorneys, Treasurers, Commissioners of the Revenue and Sheriffs were to be elected by the voters. Terms of office for all, except Clerks of the Court, were at first unspecified.


A constitutional amendment in 1874 stipulated that the number of Commissioners per county would continue to be determined by the General Assembly, they would serve four year terms and they would be compensated primarily through fees. One key element of the Underwood constitution was that it did not disenfranchise soldiers of the former Confederate States. Another fundamental provision of the new constitution was the creation of a new office, that of Treasurer. The Commissioner of the Revenue would now turn over his assessment lists to the Treasurer for collection rather than to the Sheriff. Commissioners continued to be elected and served four-year terms until the Constitutional Convention of 1901.

Constitutional Convention of 1901

There was considerable debate within the legislature as to whether Commissioners should be elected or appointed. The Assembly chose election.


The General Assembly reversed itself in 1906 and prescribed judicial appointment.


In 1908 the General Assembly reversed itself again declaring Commissioners to be elected.

  1. Web. History of the Office, retrieved November 28, 2023.