Sales and Use Tax

General Information

Under Virginia law, most purchases of tangible personal property are subject to both state and local sales and use taxes. The general sales tax rate for Virginia is 5.3 percent--of that, 4.3 percent goes to the state and 1 percent goes to the locality. In the Northern Virginia region there is an additional 0.7 percent state tax for transportation, bringing the total state and local sales tax to 6 percent. The Northern Virginia region includes the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park and the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William.

Sales of certain food items are subject to a lower sales tax rate of 2.5 percent (1.5 percent state tax and 1 percent local tax). Eligible food items include food purchased for home consumption including most staple grocery food items and cold prepared foods packaged for home consumption.

There currently is no Meals Tax in Fairfax County.

It is the seller's responsibility to collect the tax from the buyer on each taxable sale. The tax must be separately stated and added to the sales price or charge. The Virginia Department of Taxation uses Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) codes to identify where a business is located and where their sales take place. FIPS codes are a standardized set of  numeric codes to ensure uniform identification of geographic entities such as cities, counties, and towns. Use the Virginia Department of Taxation's FIPS Lookup tool to determine your correct code.

Refer to the Virginia Department of Taxation's website for further information on sales tax.


New Policy Exempts Sales Tax on Meals and Catering Purchased by Qualifying Nonprofits - Effective April 22, 2016, dealers are no longer required to collect sales and use tax on prepared meals, catering, and labor related to preparing and serving food purchased by nonprofit organizations, churches, state agencies, and local governments that have Virginia sales tax exemption certificates and meet certain requirements. In order for the purchases to qualify for the exemption, the nonprofit organization, church, or government entity must demonstrate all of the following:

  • The provision of prepared meals, catering, and related services supports a function, mission, service, or purpose of the organization.
  • The charge for prepared meals, catering, and services is billed to and paid for by the organization claiming the sales tax exemption.
  • The organization that claims the exemption controls when, how, and who consumes the prepared food or catered meals.

The Virginia Department of Taxation is not issuing new nonprofit exemption certificates at this time. New certificates will be issued when organizations renew their sales tax exemption. Instead, the Virginia Department of Taxation is sending letters explaining this policy change to all organizations holding department-issued nonprofit exemption certificates. Organizations should provide the letter along with their exemption certificate when purchasing prepared meals, catering, or related services from dealers.

For more information, see Tax Bulletin 16-3 "Important Information Regarding Meals and Catering Purchased by Nonprofit Organizations, Churches, and Governmental Entities" on the Virginia Department of Taxation website.

Sales Tax Holidays

Legislation enacted by the 2015 General Assembly combined Virginia's three annual sales tax holidays into one three-day holiday beginning the first Friday in August. During the holiday period, consumers may purchase Hurricane and Emergency Preparedness Equipment, School Supplies and Clothing, and Energy Star and WaterSense Qualified Products without paying sales tax. Refer to the Virginia Department of Taxation's website for further information on sales tax holidays.


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