Proposed 2016 Meals Tax Referendum

May 10, 2016

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote June 7 on placing a meals tax referendum on the Nov. 8 election ballot. If the Board votes to move forward with the referendum, voters will vote yes or no on a (up to 4 percent) meals tax that would become effective July 1, 2017.

The following is preliminary information to enable residents and stakeholders to understand the process and the details of the proposed meals tax referendum.

 April 27 Memo from the County Executive on the Meals Tax and Other Revenues

Where Will Funds From the Proposed Meals Tax Go?

At the May 10 Budget Committee meeting, the Board of Supervisors discussed that an estimated $96 million generated in revenue from a 4 percent meals tax would be distributed as noted below. The Board of Supervisors will vote on the proposed funds distribution at the June 7 meeting.

  • Fairfax County Public Schools: 70 percent
  • County Services, Capital Improvements and Property Tax Relief: 30 percent  
    (Examples of capital improvements include renovations and updates as well as new construction of schools, fire and police stations, libraries, among other county facilities.)

May 10 Board of Supervisors Budget Committee Meeting Documents

What is a Meals Tax?

A meals tax is a tax on prepared food and beverages (ready-to-eat) at restaurants, lunchrooms, cafeterias, coffee shops, cafes, taverns, delis, push cart operations and hot dog stands

  • Includes alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages served with a meal.
  •  Does not apply to groceries. Grocery and convenience stores only collect the tax on ready-to-eat foods, such as the deli or salad bar.
  •  Does not apply to food purchased at vending machines.

Proposed Meals Tax Referendum Timeline

June 7: Board of Supervisors scheduled to vote on including a meals tax question on the county’s Nov. 8 election ballot.

Nov. 8: Election Day.

February 2017: If the meals tax referendum is on the Nov. 8 ballot and passed by voters, the Board will hold a public hearing to adopt an ordinance establishing the rate and terms of the meals tax.

July 1, 2017: If the proposed meals tax referendum passes, it would become effective at the beginning of Fiscal Year 2018.

Meals Tax Rates in Surrounding Jurisdictions

Counties in Virginia, including Fairfax County, can only establish a meals tax if a referendum is approved by voters. Examples of local jurisdictions that have a meals tax in place include:

Alexandria: 4 percent

Arlington:  4 percent

Falls Church: 4 percent

Fairfax City:  4 percent

Herndon:  2.5 percent

Vienna: 3 percent

District of Columbia: 10 percent

2014 Task Force to Consider a Meals Tax Referendum

More Information on the County's Budget and Taxes







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