Weekend Discussion: How Will You Vote on the Meals Tax?

by Karen Goff October 14, 2016 at 4:15 pm 59 Comments

Burger at The Counter/Courtesy of The CounterThe Meals Tax referendum is coming Nov. 8. Do you know how you will vote?

Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins is sponsoring a forum in Reston Oct. 24, where panelists will discuss the upcoming Fairfax County Meals Tax referendum. The forum is at South Lakes High School, 7 p.m.

The meals tax question will be posed to voters on the Nov. 8 ballot. If passed, the 4 percent tax on restaurant meals and other prepared food will add close to $100 million annually Fairfax County’s tax base. Seventy percent of that will go to Fairfax County Public Schools. The school system has been facing an annual shortfall, which has resulted in a rise in property taxes.

Thirty percent of the meals tax money will go to other county services.

Surrounding jurisdictions such as Alexandria, Arlington, the District, and the towns of Herndon, Vienna already have meal taxes. The Virginia jurisdiations that already have a tax will not be taxed twice; the new tax would affect areas of the county, such as Reston, Great Falls and unincorporated Herndon, that do not currently have a tax.

Fairfax County last held a referendum on a meals tax in 1992. It failed.

Proponents say it is a necessary way to diversify revenue without continuing to raise property taxes. Opponents say it will hit lower income people the hardest and it is unfair to the restaurant industry, among other issues.

Read more in these previous Reston Now posts:

Food Fight: New Groups Taking Sides in Battle Over Fairfax Meals Tax

Op-Ed: PTA Urges Passing Meals Tax

Op-Ed: Vote No on the Meals Tax

And see other info:

Fairfax County Meals Tax Referendum page

Stop The Food Tax page

Photo courtesy of The Counter

  • Edward Calvert

    I’m surprised I get first time comment. So, this issue seems to be vote yes if you don’t want higher property taxes, otherwise vote no and try to get new elected leadership / fcps budget cuts to a very high school budget.

    How about other very creative taxes ? Philly passed a sugary drink tax this summer ( a la coke tax). 1.5 cents per ounce. Money to be used for schools, including universal pre – kindergarten.

    I don’t have any kids, though I see merit in the high quality school system making this place more attractive for all kinds of things = employers, home values, quality of life, etc

    I’m not sure yet the best way to answer though I’m leaning no. Just one more way they are into my wallet.

    • TaxAccountant

      Any rational person would agree that the perception of the quality of our school system increases the value of our property. It follows then that the tax we pay on our property is inflated by that perception. However the school budget is funded, it seems as if from a property owner tax-payers point of view, it is better funded through means other than the value of our properties.
      The meals tax is a discretionary tax; it’s simple, if you don’t want to pay it, don’t eat foods that incur additional tax.

      Vote YES for the meals tax and keep our property taxes lower and our school system the best anywhere!!!

      • Mike M

        Sorry, but property taxes are going up anyway. This tax is yet another way for the County to get us to subsidize their mismanagement. The factors that drive property values are many. A few absolutely dwarf and render insignificant the effects on “perception” of a property tax. Property values in Fairfax are already very inflated. It is comical to see people advocate public policy to boost property values after 2008.

      • taylor13

        It’s simple. If you don’t want to pay property tax, don’t buy property in Fairfax.

    • Jenny Gibbers

      I you ask me ffx county property tax assessments have been coming in very high, higher than before and much higher than other jurisdictions. So to say we chance another increase is to acknowledge that the county is incapable of managing their tax revenue.

      Let them acknowledge, votes no.

  • AlliD

    Easy no!

  • Gavin

    If you vote no for meals tax, you’re agreeing to a property tax increase. But we all know, we’re going to end up with both anyway. At least at vote “yes” for meals tax will
    delay a property tax increase for a couple years.

    • P Henry

      Wow! A delay a property a property tax increase for a couple years. Dream on Pilgrim.

      • Gavin

        It’s not going to pass. So that property tax increase coming sooner than later. Neither is a dream of mine.

    • Jenny Gibbers

      The same three families have ruled.america gor 32 years, if she wins two terms make that 40.

      • Whose fault is that…no one else running? People who do not participate in the governmental process but just complain and complain.

        • Jenny Gibbers

          Thats easy, complaining. True.

          How about high schoolers as part of their education growing anf selling their own veggies, learning how ro cook and riding the bike to school?

          Instead they wasted 50mill+ on astroturf so that we can deflect poor academics on a new career path in the NFL.

          Wake up America.

      • Richard

        Uh, did you read the article, Jenny? Or Gavin’s comment? Your answer is as unrelated to the question as a typical Trump response.

        • Bush=Clinton

          Thing here is we fought the redcoats barefoot in the snow to rid ourselves of tax oppression and tyranny. Now America is one of the heavily taxed countries on Earth, paradoxically our enemy Britain has just found itself. The sacrifices will be great but your children will thank you. Education doesnt come from schools, it starts at home.

          Most people already know and that is why this tax and the thought system that comes with it cannot prevail.

      • Willie Reston

        Math is really hard, isn’t it Jenny? I’ve seen your comment parroted on Facebook by many other Trump supporters so let’s take a stroll down memory lane to see just how wrong you are!! Now, go back 32 years, what year was that? That’s right, it was 1984, a magical time. And who won the presidential election that year, Jenny? Why, Ronald Reagan was re-elected, of course! But your comment mentions only three families which means Obama-Bush-Clinton, right? Well, George HW Bush was the start of that and he was elected in 1988, *which was only 28 years ago*. So with your poor math skills you subtracted 30 years from today and went back another two when you should have gone forward the two years, didn’t you Jenny? Or, more likely, did you just re-post that meme without thinking too much about it? Oh man, is subtraction ever tough!!

        Also, think of how ridiculous it sounds when you say America has “been ruled by three families” for 28 years (I corrected the math for you, Jenny!). I’ll save you the 6th grade social studies lecture and just say that the President does not have nearly the power you think he does. Also, if three consecutive presidents win re-election, OHMYGAAHHD that’s like 24 years!! Three presidents might “rule” America for 24 years OH NOs!!!

        • Jenny Gibbers

          You get an A for your essay, mostly for effort. Well done.

      • ewh410

        Uh, a President doesn’t rule. You ARE aware of the power Congress has over passing laws? A president in this country is a cheerleader with a very loud megaphone.

        • The Constitutionalist

          Keep telling yourself that.

    • Nyla J.

      No it won’t, and then there will be another tax which can continue to increase without cap.

      • Gavin

        I’m assuming you’re say “no it won’t” to my statement that a meals tax will delay an increase to the property tax. Please correct me if I’m wrong in that assumption. If that is correct, I will say we won’t know which opinion is correct because the meals tax will fail.

    • One Really

      Property taxes can be deducted. Not the case with the meal tax.
      I would argue you are better off with a property tax increase.
      Also, property taxes will go up next year no matter what happens in November.
      There also has been no forecast (from what I found)on what a typically a family might pay per year. Is it $100, $200, $300 Fairfax county just says it will bring 100 million per year. This is based on what information?

  • Ed Cacciapaglia

    I have already voted absentee: No!

    • P Henry

      You are my hero!

  • cRAzy

    Just say “NO”!

  • I will vote yes! We need the money and Herndon, Vienna, Leesburg etc already have it. There is a coming desperation for funds for schools, police, transportation and a meals tax where more than 30% of the money would come from visitors not residents would be a good choice.
    I frequently pay a meals tax when I stop iin Herndon and go to Vienna and it is not an issue.

    • Here Fido, catch!!!

      You are a realtor and so youn expense your outings. Nice trick.

  • Virginia Harlow

    Last time I voted, there was a bond issue. Deep inside all the wording was something about providing funds for money they already spent! Ugh.

  • Joyce

    Easy no! Maybe, just maybe it’s time for Fairfax County to be fiscally responsible? Or am I dreaming?

    • ewh410

      You ask a fair question, but only if you think you have facts that the county is not being responsible. There has been such an influx of burden to county services over the years, e.g., renters who don’t pay real estate taxes.

      • Willie Reston

        Renters pay real estate taxes. Indirectly, yes, but they pay them nonetheless. Perhaps you should grasp a very basic understanding of how taxes work before commenting on the topic.

        • Ed Cacciapaglia

          Renters only pay more if the market forces allow landlords to raise the rents. Supply and demand is the rule. (Business renters are a different story as the majority of business rental contracts allow the landlord to pass through rent increases to the business tenants.)

          • Willie Reston

            Okay, well if renters aren’t paying it then the landlords certainly are. And if people think that’s not the case then they ought to bring that up with the county before rubber stamping a new 4% tax on everyone.

      • The Constitutionalist

        Wait… so, the property owner and the renter should both pay property taxes? You want people to pay taxes on things they don’t own?

        Don’t you know that the renter already pays the property tax for the owner?

        This is why there should be some basic economics questions on the GED test.

        • One Really

          Your assuming he has actually made it to that level.

      • A K

        Please look at the budget actuals for the county. There is an overage every year. I don’t mean a dollar or two. I mean $70-89 million dollars. MILLION.

  • Walter Hadlock

    To Karen Goff: I realize this is off topic. Is there any way to arrange the comments in either ascending or descending order according to when received? That would include for all comments. Thanks

    • Willie Reston

      There’s the “sort by” feature at the top right of the comments.

  • 30yearsinreston

    I ‘m voting No
    FCPS have enough money
    If the management can’t work with 2B they should be fired

  • UStifosi .

    Those that say they want to vote yes…..show me where you have cut a check to back up your stance otherwise you are weak

    • ewh410

      Ustifosi, that check you seek is called a real estate tax bill. I pay it twice a year, and it hurts, but I choose to pay it so that we can send children from our community to decent schools, so they can hopefully grow up and do good things for us as we get old. Maybe it’s time for you to pay your fair share.

      • Willie Reston

        You don’t seem to understand what you’re arguing for. This vote is for a meals tax which will appear on the check of every prepared meal you pay for in FC. This is not a property tax which you referenced in this comment.

      • taylor13

        Thank you so much for your contribution to our County. Your thank you fruit basket is in the mail.

    • HomeCooking

      I won’t have to cut a check since I don’t eat prepared meals. VOTE YES so I don’ t have to pay this discretionary tax.

  • Willie Reston

    “More tax on the commoners is always good” said nobody ever. FC is out of their minds if they think they can charge a DC premium on a decidedly non-DC dining experience.

    • ewh410

      Ouch, Willie – so, you’re turning this into a referendum on good dining? Ha ha. Well, if you’re against it, you could take your foodie friends and eat in another county.

      • taylor13

        He probably will…as would other people. With fewer customers, restaurants would go out of business, we would have fewer choices, and well…..the county would again be looking for a new tax.

  • Why do you bother?
  • ewh410

    All you “no” people Ought to think more carefully. Where else do you want the money to come from, assuming you care about having good schools and reasonably good county services? If you don’t care about those things, perhaps you should live in some other county or state. A meals tax is a good way to distribute the tax burden, e.g., to renters, who use county services like schools, but don’t pay real estate taxes.

    • Willie Reston

      Newsflash: real estate taxes are baked into the rent which renters pay each and
      every month, so yes, they are contributing their fair share
      already. Probably more so considering renters tend to have fewer kids
      utilizing school resources compared to homeowners. And all of us “no people”
      would like for the county and school system to find it within themselves to spend and allocate resources according to the generous budget they already receive based on the county’s lofty property values and tax rates that are already in place, the same as they have for decades. Why is an additional tax stream needed all of a sudden? What changed within the school system recently which requires this additional tax stream? Perhaps we ought to start looking there before hamfistedly levying another tax on the people.

      • 30yearsinreston

        We have thought more carefully
        TheFCPS are always asking for more money
        Look at what the have

      • ewh410

        Enlighten us, Willie: explain specifically how rent payments actually end up paying for county services.

        • Edward Calvert

          Hi ewh410, I think Willie reston is trying to explain via the IRS tax code

          A property owner has his property assessed in value by ffxco along with the established tax rate. That gives you the property tax you pay each year. The interest, taxes, and points can be deducted off the owners income taxes via the schedule a.

          Renters pay for taxes ( sort of ) because when an owner rents out his property for fair market value, there is an allowance in the,rent for the property taxes paid by the owner, still, each year. The owner can still deduct the interest, points, and property taxes paid each year but this time it’s on t h e schedule e.

          If the county or state somehow devised a system to tax renters with a property tax, they’d actually be charging a tax on the same property twice, since the owner always pays a property tax (even when he is free and clear )

          I think I got it right. So if we taxed renters, I guess technically we’d get more money, but it’s a double tax.

          • taylor13

            Your response made my day!

  • Mike M

    Not just no, but “hail” no!

  • Tom H

    There is nothing in the proposed legislation limiting our property taxes. Because this is being sold to the public with statements insinuating lower property taxes, I am likely to vote NO.

  • taylor13

    It’s probably because he bought a house that he can barely make payments on. 🙂 I agree with you. Renters pay rent indirectly by paying their monthly rent.

  • ichrysso

    Can someone point me to the supporting materials that show by how much my property taxes will go down if I vote in favor of this tax? I am surprised that the specifics are not included in the referendum question.

  • lisa k

    exactly VOTE NO!!!!!!

  • Hatersgonnahate

    Tired of the trolls? Put them to work! Donate $10 to the Vote Yes Meals Tax campaign on behalf of your favorite troll comment. Together, we will reach more voters with the facts. http://www.yesmealstax.org/donate


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