Politicians in the nation’s second wealthiest county are looking impose a “Meals Tax” on anyone who eats food.
The Meals Tax is being pushed by the Fairfax County, Virginia Board of Supervisors. The proposed Meals Tax would impose a 4% sales tax on all ready-to-eat foods on top of an already existing 6% state wide sales tax on such foods. On November 8, Fairfax County voters will be asked to vote YES or NO.
The Board of Supervisors does not have authority to implement a meals tax unless given approval by voters. The Meals Tax would apply to all ready-to-eat foods, which include restaurant meals and beverages, food and beverage at hotels, food truck purchases, hot dog stands, meals at coffee shops, and prepared foods at grocery and convenience stores.
The people of Fairfax County would ultimately pay a 10% tax on meals and prepared foods. For a $50 meal people will pay an additional $5 just because they ate food. And don’t get fooled into thinking it is just a meals tax, it is a food tax. It will impose a tax on grocery and convenience items like roasted chickens, deli foods and salads, and any beverage sold with the food.
Everyone who eats prepared food, regardless of their tax status and whether they pay income or property taxes, will be forced to pay this tax. Not only are people going to be double and even tripled taxed, but it is also going to hit lower and middle income households the hardest.
The Meals Tax is also a threat to tourism and small businesses. Tourism is a major contributor to the economy and job base of Fairfax County. Tourism spending in Fairfax County for 2014 reached over $2.85 billion. Within the entire Commonwealth of Virginia, Fairfax County is the #2 contributor of expenditures to Virginia’s tourism industry. Visitors to Fairfax County directly supported almost 30,000 local jobs. These local tourism jobs have combined earnings of $601 million. The county predicts that one-third of the revenues of this tax will be paid by non-county residents. Tourism revenues could be threatened and small businesses will be affected. This is a real threat to the tourist industry in Fairfax and could push these tourists to other parts of Virginia or other states altogether.
Instead of governing correctly, the county board is shaking down residents for any loose change they haven’t already taxed. County leaders need to be more efficient and wiser with spending rather than demanding more money. County leaders have already raised taxes on Fairfax County residents by $100 million by raising property taxes and want to raise the total to $200 million on the taxpayers of Fairfax County all within a year. The Fairfax County budget has increased by $1 billion in the last four years. More than half of the $7.5 billion budget already goes to education. County leaders need to spend responsibly instead of asking for $70 million more through a tax hike that hurts the people who need the money the most. The fact that Fairfax County spends almost $13,000 per student per year shows there is a problem with efficiency and effectiveness of education spending.
The people of Fairfax County have an important decision to make on November 8. If the Meals Tax passes, it will be another stepping stone for Fairfax County leaders to keep overspending, and residents will pay the price.
Photo Credit: Tax Credits