Fairfax County may put a meals tax on the ballot to generate $88M

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has created a task force, led by two former board chairs, to explore the possibility of putting a meals tax referendum on the ballot.

A 4 percent meals tax would generate an estimated $88 million.

The board, at Chairman Sharon Bulova’s request, created the study group, which will present its conclusions on June 17. Led by Kate Hanley and Tom Davis, the task force will be comprised of representatives from roughly 25 organizations, including the Republican and Democratic parties, the county’s Chamber of Commerce, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, Visit Fairfax, the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance and the Fairfax Education Association.

Northern Virginia localities are allowed to install a meals tax, but only by referendum. The last time the question was put to voters, in 1992, it failed. All of the cities and towns surrounding Fairfax have such a tax.

“There has been a growing sentiment during recent years for our board to once again allow the voters to decide whether or not they wish to avail themselves of this additional source of revenue,” Bulova said in her statement to the board. “Reasons for urging this include the desire to diversify the revenues we have available to fund schools, public safety, parks, libraries and human services.”

The task force will be asked not only to recommend, or reject, a meals tax referendum, but also to suggest what year the question should be asked and how the resulting revenues should be used.

A meals tax would apply to all ready-to-eat foods and beverages wherever they are sold, except from vending machines. The tax would not apply to groceries.

Read the full story from the Washington Business Journal.

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