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Bulova: Meals tax not being discussed in Fairfax

Fairfax Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova (D) made a point Monday to squelch any speculation that the Washington area's most populous jurisdiction is considering a meals tax to offset a looming $316 million shortfall and refill cash-strapped county coffers.

Bulova said Fairfax officials are not discussing a meals tax, a proposal that failed in a voter referendum in 1992. During a bimonthly Board of Supervisors meeting Monday, she bluntly said the idea has been pushed by Supervisor Gerald W. Hyland (D-Mount Vernon) but that, so far, the idea has been all talk.

"I know it's something Supervisor Hyland wants," Bulova said. "But no one has made a motion and it's not being discussed. It's not something this board is entertaining." (As Bulova spoke, Hyland rolled his eyes.)

Hyland has said Bulova's support is crucial for a meals tax voter referendum to get off the ground. The Post's Fredrick Kunkle reported last month that four supervisors expressed "tentative backing for the idea": Penelope A. Gross (D-Mason), Catherine M. Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill), Jeff C. McKay (D-Lee) and Linda Q. Smyth (D-Providence).

Meals taxes are used by Alexandria, Falls Church, Vienna and Fairfax City and Arlington County is one of five Virginia counties with the authority to impose the tax without a voter referendum.

In Fairfax City, for example, a 4 percent tax is imposed on "each and every meal" sold from a restaurant. Virginia's Revenue Commissioner administers the tax.

But such taxes are typically unpopular with voters and passage would likely require a heavy lobbying campaign to persuade increasingly money-conscious residents.

By Derek Kravitz  |  December 7, 2009; 11:51 AM ET
Categories:  Derek Kravitz , Fairfax County Board of Supervisors  
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I go out of my way not to eat at restaurants in Fairfax City, Alexandria City, and Arlington because of these idiotic "meal taxes." If Fairfax County imposes them, I'm cooking at home EVERY night! To tax people to eat at a restaurant is the most absurd concept in Virginia government.

Posted by: Russtinator | December 7, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Well, the time it was proposed in 1992, Republicans crushed that idea and it never came back up again. Just because Gerry Connolly led the County into a 500 Million dollar budget shortfall and then left town for Congress does not mean this Board needs to saddle taxpayers with another tax especially in light of the economy.

And just because Sharon is saying its not being discussed does not give me good feelings. If the Democrats find a way to tax, trust me they will try to do it.

Posted by: NovaRep4467 | December 7, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

If I have enough money to eat out, I can certainly pay a 4% tax on that food. I'd much rather have this done, then have services cut, or other taxes (like property taxes raised). Its a recession and difficult decicisions have to be made, there is no money tree our leaders can run too instead of upping taxes/cutting taxes.

Posted by: josh703 | December 7, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

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