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Posted at 7:57 PM ET, 12/ 1/2010

Arlington delegation to county: Tax a 'tough sale'

By Christy Goodman

Virginia Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D-Arlington) told the county board Wednesday afternoon that "anything with the word 'tax' in it is a tough sell."

Whipple, one of several members of the Arlington delegation to the General Assembly at a meeting with the Arlington County Board, was speaking to the board's request to renew an existing 1/4-cent tax that is added to the hotel tax, otherwise known as the Transit Occupancy Tax.

The renewal of the1/4-cent levy is the first of two legislative requests coming from Arlington for the 2011 General Assembly session. The county also provided policy guidance for their delegation.

The 1/4-cent tax generated more than $1 million in fiscal 2010 for the Arlington Convention and Visitors Service and must be renewed every three years. Arlington's Transit Occupancy Tax generated nearly $21 million for the general fund in the same year.

"Re-authorization should be a no-brainer" for something promoting tourism, especially with the anniversary of the Civil War approaching, said Del. Robert H. Brink (D-Arlington). However, since the tax is only applicable to Arlington County it must have 2/3 of each chamber's vote to pass, which can be "extremely challenging," he said.

Rich Doud, president of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, said the Hotel General Managers Committee is "wholeheartedly behind the tax."

The Arlington County Board's second request is for the Transit Occupancy Tax and other state taxes to be applied to on-line travel sites.

Whipple, who has been working on the legislation for a few years, said online travel companies not paying the same taxes as local and national hotel sites is "just wrong."

A study on the issue is due out of the Department of Taxation this year, she said.

By Christy Goodman  | December 1, 2010; 7:57 PM ET
Categories:  Arlington County, Christy Goodman, General Assembly 2011  
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