The Fairfax County Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination has proposed a process of drafting a five-cent plastic bag tax ordinance in Tuesday’s Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Environmental Committee meeting.
According to Susan Hafeli, the Deputy Director of OEEC, Fairfax County legislation allows the county to adopt an ordinance imposing a five-cent tax on most disposable plastic bags provided by grocery stores, convenience stores and drugstores.
As of right now, there are no guidelines from the state regarding the creation of a plastic bag ordinance, rather, the state intends to wait until a locality adopts an ordinance to consider guidelines, according to the presentation.
The revenues are to be appropriated for environmental clean-up, mitigation of pollution and litter, education and the provision of reusable bags to recipients of a federal food support program, according to Hafeli.
The proposed plastic bag tax could generate annual aggregate local revenues of between $20.8 to $24.9 million statewide, although, the tax may be more of an “impetus to behavior change rather than a revenue generator,” said Hafeli.
Across the region, the Northern Virginia Regional Commission Waste Management Board has begun exploring the issues laid out in the legislation, according to Hafeli. Additionally, Arlington County is planning to convene a public workgroup in early 2021 to discuss the adoption of a plastic bag tax, with the discussion of issues regarding equity in the county.
OEEC anticipates that action for this process will occur in two phases. The first phase will focus on public engagement, from developing an informative website, to holding one or more workshops for input, to releasing an electronic survey.
The second phase will focus on the development of the ordinance, including updating the webpage with the proposed ordinance and requests for comments, presentations to the Board’s Environmental Committee, and requests to advertise and hold a public hearing, according to Hafeli.
Concerns from several supervisors regarding the ordinance included confusion regarding state guidelines, equity issues within the community, and ensuring there is good research on the issue, especially in the midst of the pandemic.
However, most supervisors agreed that the environmental issue with plastic bags is significant, and that data from other major water sources, including the Anacostia River, has shown a plastic bag tax to have positive environmental effects.
Moving forward, the Board is looking to clarify the state’s policies while working in conjunction with regional partners and plan for further conversation on how to create the ordinance.
The next Environmental Committee Meeting will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 2 at 11 a.m.
Photo by Brian Yurasits/Unsplash
Fairfax County officials are in the early phases of considering the implementation of a five-cent tax on plastic bags.
In March, the Virginia General Assembly passed a state bill that allows municipalities to collect taxes on disposable bags. Gov. Ralph Northam signed the bill on April 10.
Jurisdictions can levy taxes on disposable plastic bags given by grocery stores, convenience stores, and drugstores. Tax revenues are allocated for environmental cleanup, pollution and litter management, providing educational programs to reduce environmental waste, and the funding of reusable bags to recipients of federal food support programs.
The Virginia Department of Taxation estimates the tax could generate between $20.8 million to $24.9 million in annual aggregate local revenues across the state.
A board matter approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in late July also directs the Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination to create a plan to implement the plastic bag fee next year.
In a Nov. 30 memo to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Fairfax County Executive Bryan Hill said county departments are currently “exploring the issues associated with development and implementation of a plastic bag tax ordinance.” Other jurisdictions like Arlington County have cited concerns about adopting the tax amid a pandemic due to equity-related dissues.
Hill noted that several ambiguities in the state’s ordinance need to be addressed. For example, the ordinance does not explicitly define what constitutes a convenience store and offers scant information on how tax commissioners will enforce the tax and issue penalties for non-compliance.
“At least at this time, there appears to be no mechanism to contest a retailer’s categorization short of a court challenge and sufficient facts to support a locality’s different categorization,” Hill wrote.
The county anticipates launching a public engagement process, including public meetings and an online survey, to gauge input on the move.
If the Board of Supervisors directs staff to create a plastic bag ordinance, county departments would launch a second public engagement process and consult with county entities like the Environmental Quality Advisory Council prior to consideration by the board.
The board will discuss the issue at an Environmental Committee meeting tomorrow (Dec. 8).
Photo by Griffin Wooldridge/Unsplash
The Herndon Town Council is considering a move to create new incentives for art-focused redevelopment projects.
The language of the proposal applies to projects in downtown Herndon, but a town spokesperson did not indicate how the plan applies to the stalled redevelopment of downtown Herndon, which is a joint effort between the town and Reston-based company Comstock.
Economic incentives include:
- A 50-percent reduction in fees for water, sewer and building permits in the initial establishment of the project
- An annual rebate of up to 100 percent of real property taxes linked to the total. Redevelopment project for taxes due to the town for up to a decade.
- Exceptions that allow a reduced number of parking spaces required for multi-family residential use
- Deferral of developer contribution for recreational amenities
“These amendments create additional opportunities to expand the type, quantity and quality of. Art offerings to town residents and increase the town’s presence as a destination for art activities,” according to an Oct. 20 staff report.
It’s unclear how the incentives will be applied to the redevelopment project in downtown Herndon. A town spokesperson did not provide comment by the publication deadline.
The $85 million redevelopment project, which includes a new arts center, would transform nearly 4.7 acres of land in downtown Herndon into a vibrant mixed-use district.
A meeting on the matter is set to take place today (Tuesday) at 7 p.m.
Image via handout/Comstock
The county is considering a plan to establish an economic incentive program for Lake Anne Village Center and other areas with limited development activity and dipping competitiveness.
The Economic Incentive Program, if approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, would incentivize parcel consolidation by reducing site plan fees by 10 percent and offering real estate tax abatement for up to 10 years.
It is designed to target areas with limited development activity, declining competitiveness and outdated land development and architectural designs, according to county documents. Projects must be limited to commercial, industrial, multi-family or mind use development. Additionally, up to 20 percent of existing development can be retained or repurposed.
Preliminarily, the board has identified several areas for revitalization for the following locations:
- Seven Corners
- Richmond Highway, Huntington
Lake Anne Village Center’s 41-acre Community Revitalization Area (CRA) is primarily focused on the plaza, which was the first area developed in Reston. Efforts to revitalize the plaza have been on the table for several years. The county designated the village center as a CRA in 1998 in order to stimulate reinvestment and development. Currently, roughly 22 percent of the village center is covered by surface parking, which needs repairs.
A public hearing is tentatively set for Sept. 15. If approved, the county will begin meeting with applicants to discuss potential projects. An executive outreach and education campaign about the program is also planned.
The board’s Economic Initiatives Committee is set to discuss the plan at a meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) at 11 a.m.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved today (Tuesday) giving taxpayers more time to file and pay their taxes.
Now, individuals and businesses in the county will have until June 1 to file their personal property tax returns. Additionally, the first half of payments for real estate taxes won’t be due until Aug. 8.
“Both these resolutions are intended to alleviate the negative impact threatened by the potential spread of COVID-19,” according to county documents.
“I’ve been asked a lot about this since a lot of folks in the county have found themselves without paychecks,” Chairman Jeff McKay said.
McKay said that people won’t accrue late fees for following the new deadlines.
By pushing the deadlines, the county will likely be delayed in receiving tax revenue, according to the county. However, county staff said that the benefits to the community by pushing the deadlines outweighs potential impacts on revenue.
Reston Man Charged with Aldie Assault — “A man was arrested in Aldie Thursday morning after allegedly assaulting a coworker at the workplace, according to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies responded to the 41000 block of Collaboration Drive around 8:06 a.m. for reports of the incident.” [Loudoun Times-Mirror]
Surviving Tax Season — The county offers several resources on how to navigate rules and filing procedures. The Board of Supervisors is also hosting a series of free tax relief workshops through the county. [Fairfax County Government]
Endorsements for Reston Association Board Election — The Coalition for a Planned Reston endorsed Bob Petrine, a candidate for an at-large seat of three years, and Sarah Selvaraj-Dsouza, a candidate for an at-large seat for one year. [Reston 20/20]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
The arrival of W-2 forms in the mail reminds us, even if we may have momentarily tried to forget, that tax season is upon us. This is no ordinary tax year, however. Massive changes in federal tax laws will result in significant changes at the state level as well. No one can speak with authority as to what the differences will be for an individual taxpayer as the General Assembly has not revised state tax law to reflect the federal changes.
The situation we are in is not new. Anytime the Congress makes changes in federal tax policy, the state must adjust to those changes and decide whether to adopt the federal policy or to put in new state provisions. As a conformity state, Virginia has generally followed federal policy allowing taxpayers to file state returns using the information on their federal form.
The difference this year is that the federal changes are so massive that conformity is not realistic without major changes in the way state forms are filed. Adding to the fact that the forms may be different is that there are major differences between the way deductions and credits have been handled and what will constitute taxable income. High-income taxpayers that were the winners with the federal changes could significantly reduce monies to a state that is already struggling to meet its obligations to funding schools, mental health programs and other priorities.
Essentially, Gov. Ralph Northam proposed that additional revenues be used for investments in education, workforce development, expanded broadband and targeted tax relief to those who work at the lowest wages. Republicans have proposed a plan to return more monies to taxpayers, but there is strong concern that the Republican plan will make big dents in the state budget.
All agree that a decision needs to be reached soon for taxpayers to file their tax forms as soon as possible and as accurately as possible. In past years as many as 650,000 taxpayers have filed in the first 10 days of February.
I am the patron of a bill supported by Northam that would make a portion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) refundable to taxpayers based on their income and family size. The current Virginia EITC set at 20 percent of the federal EITC does not allow for a refund of its full value as is done in 23 other states. Under the bill I introduced, it is estimated that as much as $250 million would be returned to the pockets of hard-working Virginians who are at the lowest pay levels. This helps not only those workers, but — since low-income residents typically spend that money on goods and services — it boosts the local economy as well.
There is a sense of urgency in the General Assembly that this issue needs to be resolved as soon as possible, because it impacts every household. Not only is there a great deal of confusion, but that confusion will be multiplied many times as people start to prepare their returns with incomplete directions. The challenge has been known for several months. Tax season is upon us. Our tax policy needs to be resolved now.
The AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program is offering free help with tax preparation and electronic filing services to taxpayers.
In the Hunter Mill District, locals can find the drop-in services at the Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Road) starting on Friday (Feb. 1).
Trained counselors will be on hand to help with federal and Virginia tax returns.
Locals don’t need an appointment, but they will need to bring a photo ID, Social Security cards for themselves and their dependents, a copy of last year’s tax returns and all tax documents received.
The Reston Community Center tax prep will be available on the following days:
- Tuesdays: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Thursdays: 4:30-8:30 p.m.
- Saturdays: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The free tax preparation will also be available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from Mondays to Fridays at the SunTrust Bank of Vienna (515 Maple Avenue East) and on Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Providence Community Center in Fairfax (3001 Vaden Drive).
The program is open to people of all ages and runs until Feb. 15.
In a recent social media post, I indicated that the annual General Assembly session would be underway very soon. AutoCorrect changed the text to be “underwater very soon.” My son alerted me to the change, and I made what I thought was a correction. As the General Assembly session has gotten underway I am starting to wonder if AutoCorrect knew something that I am now coming to realize: the General Assembly may well be underwater!
The session is scheduled to go until Feb. 22. Meeting five days a week means 38 actual days for work on more than 2,000 bills and resolutions. While I have highlighted big issues like redistricting reform, preventing gun violence and ERA ratification, there are many more issues large and small that make up the agenda for the session.
Virginia has always conformed its income tax policies to the federal system. With the massive changes that have been made in federal tax law, the General Assembly will wrestle with what we will do in Virginia. There will be an effort to resolve the issue early in the session to accommodate taxpayers who want to file their returns early. Part of the tax policy debate will be making the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) refundable as promoted by the governor in a bill that I have introduced. The purpose would be to allow persons of low income to keep more of the money they earn and be more self-supporting.
As a Dillon Rule State — meaning local governments have only the powers granted to them by the state — dozens of bills called “local bills” are introduced to extend powers some of which are very minor to a particular locality. Another group of bills is called “housekeeping” to make corrections or clarifications to legislation that passed in previous sessions. All these bills are important but add to the workload of a session.
Challenging environmental issues will be coming before the legislature many of which relate to energy. There are proposals to increase the required uses of alternative and renewable fuels. Cleaning up from the past use of fossils fuels and the resulting growth in coal ash ponds will be taken up. There is a strong need to deal with the degradation of water quality in the Chesapeake Bay area. The Tidewater area is subject to recurrent flooding coming about with climate change that needs addressing now rather than later.
There are many bills dealing with criminal justice reform including bills intended to reduce the school to prison pipeline. The governor has announced his support of decriminalizing possession of small quantities of marijuana. A bill that has been introduced would allow casino and sports gambling.
There will be a number of dog and cat bills that include high levels of emotion from interested parties. Being able to limit dogs running across the properties of landowners is a big concern in rural areas.
You can review all the bills on the agenda of the General Assembly.
A flash flood watch is in effect — The watch will remain in effect through tonight. Multiple rounds of rainfall will be possible throughout the day. Saturated soil from previous rains may result in flash flooding. [National Weather Service]
Fair and carnival kicks off today — The 70th Annual 4-H Fair and Carnival kicks off today at Frying Pan Farm Park today through August 5. The event features four days of fresh air, farm fun and good times for friends, family and neighbors. Activities include fair food, 4-H exhibits, carnival rides, games and live entertainment. [Fairfax County Government]
If you’d rather not pay taxes — From Friday through Sunday, a sales tax holiday means you won’t have to pay taxes on things like school supplies, emergency supplies and energy star items. [Fairfax County Government]
Register for Reston Community Center programs — Registration is now open for Reston residents and employees to take part in RCC programs, classes and trips. [Reston Community Center]
The official version of events — A press release discusses the recent approval of the 4.1 million square foot Reston Crescent development, which will include Reston’s first Wegmans. [Fairfax County Government]
Flickr pool photo by vantagehill
Construction on office tower in Reston Station to begin — Comstock will begin building a new $95 million office tower this spring. The tower is the third office building that is part of its Reston Station development. [The Washington Business Journal]
A tax(ing) season — Need some tax relief? The county is hosting two tax relief workshops for older adults and people with disabilities in Reston next month. [The Connection]
Police seek suspects in a string of Northern Virginia robberies — “Police are searching for the suspects they believe are responsible for more than a dozen robberies in Northern Virginia over the last few months. Two men have been involved in five commercial robberies in Fairfax and Loudoun counties since Monday.” [WTOP]
Reston Station thinks big — Comstock wants to make its massive redevelopment project more robust. A new hotel and taller buildings could be added to its development plan. [Reston Planning and Zoning Committee]
Local dance company goes to Atlas — Gin Dance Company will perform at the Atlas Festival this year. We hope they’ll break a leg! [The Connection]
Photo by Fatimah Waseem
By Suzette Blackwell, Global Law PLLC
The next time you’re out dining at your favorite RTC restaurant, don’t be surprised if you find the conversation gravitate toward SALT — but it won’t be the seasoning. Many Reston-area residents just lost a major tax break, as the new tax law passed by Congress caps state and local tax (SALT) deduction at $10,000 on individual tax returns. Here’s a brief summary of how you may be affected by this change in the tax code.
Previously, these state and local taxes were fully deductible on 1040, Schedule A:
- State and local real and foreign property taxes
- State and local personal property taxes
- State, local and foreign income (or sales) taxes
Under the new law, state and local tax deductions will be limited to certain situations. These changes will be in effect temporarily from January 1, 2018 until January 1, 2026 unless Congress makes them permanent:
- State, local and foreign property taxes and state and local sales taxes are fully deductible only when paid in connection with a trade or business. These taxes may be claimed as a business expense on Schedule C (for example real estate and sales taxes to generate business income), rental property expense on Schedule E (for example, real estate taxes on rental property that qualifies as a business asset) or farm expense on Schedule F.
- Itemized personal deduction of up to $10,000 for combined: 1) state and local property taxes not paid in connection with trade or business; and 2) state and local income (or sales) taxes. Note that foreign real property taxes may no longer be claimed under this deduction.
Roughly 60 percent of Reston residents are listed as homeowners according to the U.S. Census Bureau. These people would be allowed to claim the itemized personal deduction on Schedule A. In Reston, your home would have to be worth $1 million or more for your property taxes to be above $10,000.
Your property tax assessment can be found by entering your street address here on the Fairfax County government website to obtain the tax district number (be sure to leave off the street suffix – i.e, Road, Street, etc.) You can also find more information about the tax rates applicable to your property’s tax district here.
For some homeowners, the doubling of the standard deduction will offset the lower SALT deduction. For those with higher income, however, the standard deduction may be lower than the previous SALT deduction.
Global Law PLLC represents taxpayers locally, nationally and internationally. If you need assistance with a tax law issue, please visit www.mygloballaw.com, contact our office at (703) 712-8000 or email Suzette at [email protected], or to schedule a consultation.
By this time, most Restonians are aware of the County transportation department’s (FCDOT’s) efforts to add an additional property tax on Metro station area residents to pay an estimated $350 million for improvements in their streets to accommodate developer growth. The entire 16-month-long process to get Restonians, particularly the Restonians selected by Supervisor Cathy Hudgins to serve on the so-called Reston Network Analysis Group (RNAG), to nod “yes” to yet another Reston tax has been filled with lies and deception well worthy of our new President’s world of “alternative facts.”
We have already detailed a key Reston road tax assumption that is obviously false (p. 5): That the County cannot divert tax revenues from existing or future uses to improve Reston’s urban intersections. The County won’t even address the fact that the diversion of less than $9 million of the more than $4 billion in annual General Fund tax revenues will pay for all the roads it proposes to improve under its cost assumptions. That’s just two-tenths of one percent from current tax revenues, well less than its mid-year budget adjustment. Instead, FCDOT simply refuses to acknowledge this reality.
But there are so many other intentional, incessantly repeated mis-statements, failures to recognize certain obvious truths, and just plain poor County analysis that comprise the entire “big lie” of the need for a Reston road tax. An obvious place to start is the other side of the road improvement cost equation: The grotesquely huge profits of developers and massively increased property tax revenues of the County because of the major development that will occur in Reston’s station areas over the next four decades. Not once has FCDOT acknowledged that reality, much less used it in any analysis of how street improvements could be paid for.
Based on Boston Properties per square foot 2015 profits from continuing operations nationwide, we estimate that filling out the Reston Master Plan over the next 40 years will generate more than $45 billion in profits in 2016 dollars for Reston’s station area developers. That’s more than one billion dollars per year on average — about double that with modest inflation — most of it from the operation of existing office and residential structures. Why can’t $9 million of that more than one billion per year — less than 1 percent — be devoted to improving Reston’s urban area streets?
At the same time, the value of property in the station areas will increase at least ten-fold from $6 billion to $60 billion, and possibly as much as $90 billion, with the growth in square footage and appreciation over the next four decades if the Reston Master Plan is fulfilled. That property value will generate over $11 billion in property taxes for the County without increasing the property tax rate or adding a new Reston road tax. Certainly the County can divert three percent of that massive Reston tax revenue flow to the improvement of Reston’s streets, but you haven’t heard a word about that possibility from the County. Not once.
The County clearly does not want to tie any of this huge increase in Reston tax revenues to expenditures in Reston. Reston is just a County tax “cash cow” — as it has been for decades — to be milked for County expenditures elsewhere.
In fact, FCDOT has gone so far as to create a roadway “funding gap” out of whole cloth that it values at $350 million. The gap is merely a foil based on faulty assumptions about the availability of road funds to generate a reason for an added Reston road tax. It has no basis in the reality of available of County, regional, state, or federal tax revenues for road improvement purposes. But if you don’t have a “gap,” no matter how phony, you can’t justify a new tax. So the County made one up.
Worse is the planned use of the Reston road tax funds. About 12 percent of it ($45 million) will be used to actually improve intersections on Reston’s through streets, the streets that are already clogged with rush hour traffic.
The other 87 percent ($305 million) or so will be used to flesh out the “grid of streets.” The purpose of the “grid of streets” is to create street fronts for commercial development. They have no purpose in improving traffic flow; in fact, to the contrary, the development that will accompany them will actually add to the traffic flow burden on nearby through streets such as Reston Parkway and Wiehle Avenue, Sunrise Valley Drive and Sunset Hills Drive, used to access the rest of Reston, the Dulles Toll Road, and beyond.
Worse, almost all the streets that Reston’s road tax will be used to build are streets that would not be built in the absence of a Reston corporate welfare tax because of a lack of commercial demand. The streets financed by Restonians’ taxes will be at the extreme west and east ends of the station areas, near Centerville Road in Herndon and in the vicinity of the Reston Post office to the east. These locations are too far from any Metro station to be walkable and would not be developed at all unless paid for by the public, specifically Restonians’ tax dollars. In contrast, Tysons’ developers are paying for the entirety of the “grid of streets” there, even those well beyond walking distance to a Metro station. In short, developers will use Restonians’ corporate welfare to increase their profits with no traffic or other benefit to the community.
The entire County assertion of a need for a special Reston road tax, a so-called Tax Service District (TSD), on residents in Reston station areas is nothing more than a massive con built on fraudulent assumptions, half-baked analysis, ignored realities, and the gullibility of Restonians serving on RNAG (none of whom live in the areas to be taxed except an employee of Boston Properties), and even the Reston Association Board of Directors. In fact, the RA Board will be considering a resolution at its meeting this week to support the imposition of the Reston road tax on non-member areas of Reston so long as the rate remains constant at $.021/$100 valuation and the tax has a 40-year sundown provision. The Board of Supervisors will eliminate those proposed constraints with a dismissive wave of its hand if not at the outset, at the first sign that it might crimp its tax collection from Reston’s station areas.
It is time for Restonians, and the RA Board in particular, to quit being the sucker for County taxes imposed on Reston. We already pay an extra $.047/$100 valuation for the Reston Community Center (RCC) which is stealthily moving forward with a plan to build a large regional performing arts center in Town Center North, a mile from the nearest Metro station, and raising our RCC (STD#5) tax rate to pay for its construction and ensuing perpetual operating losses.
It is time for Reston to say not just “No,” but “Hell No” to more property taxes that go to subsidize commercial for profit ventures and county-wide spending initiatives. If a developer can’t pay a few extra dollars per year to cover the cost of the road in front of his property, they simply should not be in the development business in the highly lucrative Reston market. And if the County’s leaders can’t figure out how to do that, then they should be replaced by representatives who can. We, the people of Reston, should not be putting our money in developers’ pockets through added County taxes so they can make even more billions of dollars with no benefits for our community.
Terry Maynard, Co-Chair
Reston 20/20 Committee
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved its $4.01 billion Fiscal Year 2017 budget. The motion passed 7-3, with Supervisors Herrity (Springfield), Linda Smyth (Providence) and John Cook (Braddock) voting against it.
The supervisors’ vote approves a tax increase of 4 cents per $100 of home value, to $1.13. This will provide an additional $93 million to the county annually.
At a budget mark-up session last week, the supervisors said they would provide an additional $33.6 million to Fairfax County Public Schools. This was done by allocating an entire penny of the tax rate and using reallocated funds from Third Quarter Review, said Supervisor Chair Sharon Bulova. Read More
A bunch of places are helping you celebrate (or prepare to pay up) your 1040 with discounts and freebies.
Pei Wei Asian Diner (Woodland Crossing, Herndon) is offering $5 off $20.
Noodles & Company (Plaza America) will give your “little deductibles” (kids!) a free meal when you purchase a regular entree. For those filing digitally this year, Noodles & Company is also offering an online promotion of $4 off any $10 purchase placed through order.noodles.com using the code TAXDAY at checkout.
Boston Market (North Point Village Center) is offering a Tax Day Special of a Half Chicken Individual Meal with two sides and cornbread, plus a regular fountain drink and a cookie, for $10.40.
World of Beer (Reston Town Center) will give you $5 off your check.
Check out this list on WTOP.com for more Tax Day specials.