Meals Tax Referendum is Coming – How Will You Vote?

by Karen Goff June 8, 2016 at 2:45 pm 28 Comments

"I voted" sticker. (Photo via Flickr/vox efx)The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday to put the question of a meals tax to Fairfax County voters this November.

The tax would add 4 percent to your meal. That’s in addition to a 6-percent sales tax, and would be applicable on restaurant meals, poured beverages, takeout food and prepared food from grocery and convenience stores.

The tax would give Fairfax County an estimated $100 million annually. The supervisors said 70 percent of that would go to Fairfax County Public Schools; the rest would help fund county services.

Nearby jurisdictions, including Arlington, Alexandria, D.C. and the towns of Herndon, Vienna and Fairfax, already have a food tax. They would bot be subject to the Fairfax County tax.

So, how do you plan to vote?

  • Why do you bother?

    Not just no, but HELL no.

  • Tammi Petrine

    1) The extreme reach of this referendum which covers prepared food in grocery stores will stop me from even considering this idea. Many elderly and poor people depend on prepared foods due to many factors including lack of food prep ability (failing eyesight, lack of dexterity, failing memory, depression, etc.) OR no working kitchen (broken appliances, homelessness, no access in rental rooms, etc.) Clearly the BOS did not think of the ramifications of this overreach when crafting this absurd language. This flaw which targets the very people who need the most relief is unconscionable. ALL PEOPLE NEED TO EAT.

    2) Others will decline as this rate is more than towns in FFX Co. with meals taxes already. 10% is just too high

    3) The proceeds of this new tax are not dedicated.

    4) Once this tax is enacted, it will never go away. Haven’t we learned anything from the Dulles Toll Road disaster?

    • Greg

      We agree, voted no before and will vote no this time.

      It’s bad enough that food is taxed at all, but to raise it higher is unconscionable.

      • Chris Ambrose

        Food is NOT taxed under this proposal. The service of preparing it is. If you don’t want to pay this tax, don’t eat out. It is an optional tax and a very small one at that. If you can’t afford to pay 20 cents on a $5 burger, then order off the dollar menu and pay 4 cents. If you can afford a nice $100 dinner (about $120 after tip), you can afford $4.

        Studies have shown that you, on average, the cost of traveling to the restaurant to eat out is greater than the tax you will pay!

        • Greg

          WRONG. All food purchased in VA, prepared or not, is taxed.

          “Food purchased for home consumption is taxed at the reduced rate of 2.5 percent (1.5 percent state, 1 percent local).”

          Please refrain from lecturing me and others on where, when, how and what we eat and what we can and cannot afford It’s arrogant and abominable at best.

          Vote NO on the meals tax proposal

          • Chris Ambrose

            You obviously did not read my post, or chose to ignore it. I said “Food is not taxed under this proposal” and It isn’t. If you have a problem with the tax on food you cited, take it up with the general assembly. I agree that taxing food is a regressive tax. Taxing the service of preparing food, which is an optional tax, is not. If you don’t support this tax, tell me how many police officers, fire fighters and teachers you propose we cut.

          • Greg

            WRONG again. Food is taxed in VA:

            “Food purchased for home consumption is taxed at the reduced rate of 2.5 percent (1.5 percent state, 1 percent local).”

            There are plenty of ways to cut expenses in the county, and they have been discussed here and elsewhere. Stop burning brand new books, among many others.

            Vote NO on the meals tax.

          • Danny D

            Food is already taxed in Virginia on a sales tax. There is no nexus argument that can be made that this is something we should be, as a society, deterring the use of. This is simply a cash grab.

            Last I’ve seen, food is a component of any meal, thus…

            If this was such a priority, why not put in on the ballot after the study commission in an election year when local people are up? I think we know the answer to that.

    • Fairfax Watcher

      Dear Tammi, the Fairfax County Board(BOS) voted to put the referendum on the November ballot for FC voters to allow or not a tax on certain food and beverages. The BOS did NOT craft the absurd language in the law, some might say they couldn’t do it. That language comes from the Virginia State Code: “58.1-3833 County Food and Beverage Tax”, this code was last changed in 2015 by the General Assembly. You can Google the law by searching its number.
      The BOS has finally gotten off their collective rears to look for additional sources of revenue to pay for the increases in demands. The FCPS should be squeezed to find where the cash REALLY goes!!
      The CORE of many of the problems of living in Virginia is that the General Assembly in Richmond does NOT trust the local governments and as such follows the Rule of Dillion. Named after Judge Dillion, it strives to restrict any local freedoms on law making, etc.

      • Tammi Petrine

        Fairfax Watcher, thanks for the tutorial on the genesis of the proposed meals tax law. I had NO clue that the state code controlled the language. Yes, indeed, governing in a Dillion state is a challenge. Sorry, BOS, for putting onus on you for cruel, sad rules that harm vulnerable citizens. However the harm still exists and precludes my support.

      • Mike M

        The BOS wants this tax. They voted for this tax. They own this tax proposal.

    • Sally Forth

      Oh look Tammi’s yelling again. Yawn!

    • FairfaxLibraryAdvocate

      As always Tammi you are right on point. XXX000

  • susie

    Why not just deport all illegal aliens? Problem solved.

    • DummerThanABagOHammers

      why not just deport all the racist, problem solve.

      • susie

        No, actually it’s simple economics. Or let me dumb it down for you–

        4-10 = -6

  • Jean

    The BOS seem to think what’s another 4%. People will still buy prepared food, go out to eat, etc. But for people who are like me, retired on a fixed income, all these things add up. With higher property taxes, a proposed special tax district to pay for infrastructure which doesn’t benefit Reston residents at all and now this, they are pricing us out of living here.

  • Chuck Morningwood

    Can’t we just put a tax on the Board of Supervisors?

  • Dayddyo

    How can I proxy my vote to the Donald? I am afraid that I cannot fill out my ballot without the help of Big Daddy.

    • susie


  • Stormy_Fireriver

    The schools need the money badly. I’ll vote yes. I don’t have a lot of money but I’m not afraid of taxes – but don’t come crying to me if you don’t use the money wisely that’s all I gotta say about that. I’d vote yes on a junk food tax too. Just don’t tax my healthy foods and necessary toiletry items.

    • Danny D

      There is no nexus on food to schools. Schools deserve more money but not on the back of one industry. Make the case for a tax increase that hits every member of the tax base, not just this one sector.

      • Stormy_Fireriver

        What do you suggest? If you think about it any one section of the population could avoid paying taxes depending on their life style unless you tax electricity which we all use, water, garbage, etc. Junk food and eating out are not necessity’s. You don’t have to go out to eat so if you are going to then you are going to pay a little more. It makes sense to me. Usually people with more money are the ones that go our more so then those with more are paying more. I do not have a problem with that. If you eat at a fast food place the amount you are taxed will be relatively small because your burger was 1 instead of 10.

        • Greg

          Utilities, including electricity, are all taxed as is all prepared food at 6%.

          • Stormy_Fireriver

            So then what do you suggest to garner more monies? What is left to tax? Should we not tax at all? Should we let corporations come in with their dollars and agendas and decide what the curriculum will be? Should we let them put their logos on everything for a fee to boost revenue.

          • Greg

            The solution is not taxing anything more; the solution is to cut spending. No one but you suggest we not tax at all; however, we are heavily taxed and it’s time to tax less. not more — especially food. We could possibly support higher tobacco taxes, as there is no benefit to consuming tobacco and, in fact, there is a very high cost to taxpayers to treat the many diseases resulting from tobacco use.

            And we have absolutely no problems with any entity paying to sponsor using public property, in schools and the like.

            Government is rarely the solution; government is often the problem.

          • Stormy_Fireriver

            Nice discussion but I don’t trust corporations to do what is best for the people only their bottom lines and shareholders. I also don’t trust the government so I’m still not sure what to do. I don’t have a problem with taxes I really don’t as long as the money is used wisely which it isn’t right now. I agree tobacco should be taxed more but so should junk food as it causes obesity which also causes major health problems. But because it’s owned by powerful corporations with lobbyists the government backs down.

          • Danny D

            If you are arguing for more money for schools, tell your supervisors to prioritize within existing revenues. It is called balancing your budget.

            Your boss wouldn’t let you demand more income, because you had bigger bills or wanted to spend more on education.

            If a tax increase is needed (I supported the gas tax increase for transportation), it should be bore by the entire population of the county, the best barometer for that is real estate.


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