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Fairfax County Supervisors Table Meals Tax, for Now

Restaurant association, chamber, oppose tax.

Sharon Bulova, chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, established a meals tax referendum task force to study the possibility of implementing a meals tax. Patch archive photo
Sharon Bulova, chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, established a meals tax referendum task force to study the possibility of implementing a meals tax. Patch archive photo

At Tuesday's Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ meeting, the Board heard the pros and cons of implementing a meals tax from the Meals Tax Task Force and again put off making a decision on whether to place the tax on residents, caterers, grocery stores and restaurants.

Supervisor Pat Herrity (R – Springfield) is against the meals tax and offered the following statement on it:

"I cannot support a referendum to establish a meals tax in Fairfax County for several reasons - it is a tax that targets a single industry, it would increase the tax on prepared foods by 67 percent, and Fairfax County residents will overwhelmingly shoulder this burden – the same county residents that have seen their homeowner taxes rise by 14 percent in the last three years alone, and a projected increase of another 7 percent next year," he said in a news release.

On April 22, Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova established a meals tax referendum task force to study the possibility of implementing a tax to generate an additional source of revenue. Counties may establish a meals tax only if a referendum is approved by the voters.  If adopted at a 4 percent rate, the cost of a restaurant meal would result in a nearly $100 million tax increase, according to the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce. 

The group's president and CEO, Jim Corcoran, said last month that the chamber opposes the meals tax or any "single industry" tax in the county.

"We have been down this road before in Fairfax, and in almost every case voters continue to oppose such measures. This is not a time for rehashing failed policies of the past," he said. "County leaders, the business community and citizens all need to work together to grow and diversify the economy in Fairfax County, not tax our way to a solution."

A petition, "Say No to a Fairfax County Meals Tax," organized by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, opposes the proposed referendum ballot measure that would place a 4 percent tax on all restaurant meals and prepared foods in the county.

Here's what they have to say about the proposal: "In a time when foodservice operators face high food prices, increasing transportation taxes and rising health care costs, the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) and its members, restaurants and residents in Fairfax County, as well as businesses and voters throughout the Commonwealth, stand in opposition to the call to impose a meals tax in Fairfax County."

They go on to say that if the meals tax is imposed at the 4 percent rate, the total sales tax on prepared food would be 10 percent. The addition of 4 percent meals tax to the current 6 percent sales tax the state charges would constitute a 66 percent tax increase on Fairfax County residents and visitors.

RAMW and its members do not think a single business or industry should be burdened with raising revenue for the County’s general fund.

You can view the petition here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/say-no-to-a-fairfax-county-meals-tax/
CS June 18, 2014 at 09:48 PM
SERIOUSLY???? Are we not taxed ENOUGH??? Are we trying to be Maryland where they tax the rain? Is that what's next? This is absolutely ridiculous! So, a tax for the "privelage" of eating in a restaurant in Fairfax County. That is a great way to move your business OUT of Fairfax County. Don't these politicians see more than one step away from their brilliant decisions? 10% tax on my meal. So, that means I eat out less, and maybe even tip less. How will that benefit anyone? I'm sick of being taxed. This is out of control!
Fairfax Watcher June 18, 2014 at 11:23 PM
Dear CS, please take your rightful anger to the General Assembly in Richmond and let them know that you & most Fairfax home owners want the County to have other tax generators. About 2/3 of the taxes come from land/home owners --- its time to allow the apartment renters and trailer park residents to contribute their "fair share" of tax revenue. A meals tax is the FAIREST tax possible!!!
CS June 19, 2014 at 06:02 AM
See, this is exactly the problem, Fairfax Watcher. Our overtaxed mind can even consider NO TAX vs taxing another way! I want NO MORE TAXES! Until they can stop spending my money frivously (read welfare programs) I'm interested in NO NEW TAXES! THAT is the fairest choice.

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