Countywide Dialogue on Transportation: Meals Tax

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Continuation of Countywide Dialogue on Transportation from Fairfax County

The Board has the authority to impose a meals tax by referendum. The maximum rate that can be imposed is 4% and would generate revenue of $80 million per a year. 


  • Tax on prepared foods and drinks at commercial establishments

Current Rate:

  • N/A – Fairfax County currently does not have a meals tax

Example Rate:

  • 4% maximum (can be increased in any percent increment)

Potential Annual Revenue at Example Rate:

  • $80 million.


  • Board of Supervisors has authority to initiate referendum for Meals Tax.

 Bond Eligibility?

  • Could be bonded.

 Who Pays?

  • Businesses, Fairfax County residents, and non-residents who eat in Fairfax County.

 Who Doesn't Pay?

  • Businesses and people who do not purchase meals in Fairfax County. It does not apply to groceries.

Effect on Household:

  • $140 per year at 4%
  • Assumption: Estimate is based on the average spent on meals away from home for consumers in the Washington Metro area. The tax increase assumes that the household is not currently eating out where there is a meals tax. According to the 2010 US Consumer Expenditure Survey, the average annual meal spending per a household is $3,494 in the Washington Metro area.

Text-only version of meals tax effect on households

Meals tax effect on households; see text-only version if using a screenreader; Bar chart shows 1 year average meal spending=$3,494, annual impact for household with meals tax at 4%=$140

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