Reprinted with permission from The Herrity Report published by Supervisor Pat Herrity on June 7, 2016.
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Today, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted 8-2 to place a Meals Tax Referendum on the November 2016 ballot. If approved by voters, the tax on prepared foods in the county would go to 10%—a 4% meals tax in addition to the 6% state sales tax already levied. If approved, all prepared foods and beverages, whether purchased at grocery stores, restaurants, lunchrooms, cafeterias, coffee shops, cafes, taverns, delis, push carts, or food trucks will be taxed at 10%.
At today’s meeting, I asked the Board to include a simple clarification that the tax was an additional tax. The motion, seconded by Supervisor Cook, to add the words “an additional” failed on a vote of 7-3. Thank you to Supervisors Cook and Smyth.
I have been consistent in my position against the meals tax referendum and it became even clearer coming on the heels of a 7% tax increase last year (26% over the last 5 years). The meal tax targets a specific industry—an industry that does so much for our schools and the community. While a small portion of the tax will be paid by non-county residents, the vast majority will be paid by county residents. It is a regressive tax and will impact those that can afford it the least. This prepared foods tax is not the answer to Fairfax County’s spending problems and I do not support it.
Over the past two years alone, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has voted to increase property tax rates, storm water taxes, Sewer Service charges, and youth athletic fees all while voting to raise their own pay by 27%. I could give many examples of our spending problems, but let me leave it with this—as long as we continue to give our NEW (and let me reiterate new not existing) general county and school employees a second pension benefit that no other jurisdiction in the area offers, then we have a spending problem.
During the discussion period, Supervisor McKay simplified the pro-meals tax argument into this point: do we pass a meals tax or do we raise real estate tax rates again? I’d say that it is not necessary to do either. Instead, how about we meet earlier in the year to discuss our spending problems, instead of cramming the entire budget discussion into two months just like we did this year under Budget Chairman Supervisor McKay?
I will be providing additional information on the meals tax referendum in the near future.
Editor’s Note. Thank you, Supervisor Herrity, for standing up for the overburdened taxpayer against the overspending county government. We have a serious spending problem, and solving it by more taxation will just cause smart taxpayers to flee the county. What then, county government? Higher taxes on those that remain? Is this not the vicious circle that bedeviled Detroit and other irresponsible local governments?
Keep pressing the case, Supervisor. The silent majority is behind you. Maybe with this abusive meals tax that majority will finally find its voice.