2016 Meals Tax Referendum

 The Board of Supervisors voted on June 7, 2016 to place a meals tax referendum on the Nov. 8 election ballot.

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

Where Will Funds From the Proposed Meals Tax Go?

In the Nov. 8 General Election, Fairfax County voters will be asked to vote YES or NO on a meals tax question. The Board of Supervisors does not have the authority to implement a meals tax unless approved by voters. The question asks voters to allow the Board of Supervisors to impose a 4 percent meals tax on certain prepared foods, which will be paid by residents, commuters and tourists. If the majority of voters approve the meals tax, the Board of Supervisors will dedicate the revenues to two purposes, which are specified in the ballot question:

  • 70 percent of the net revenues will be dedicated to Fairfax County Public Schools.
  • 30 percent of the net revenues will be dedicated to county services, capital improvements and property tax relief.

If approved by voters, the meals tax is estimated to generate approximately $99 million in the first year - with 28 percent of that amount coming from non-county residents.

What is a Meals Tax?

A meals tax is a tax on all ready-to-eat prepared food and beverages at restaurants, as well as grocery stores, convenience stores and delicatessens.

  • Does not apply to groceries. However, it does include ready-to-eat foods, for example, food from the deli counter or salad bar at a supermarket/grocery store.
  • Includes alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages served with a meal.
  • Does not apply to vending machines.
  • Does apply to prepared foods served at food trucks.

Meals Tax Referendum Timeline

Nov. 8: Election Day.

February 2017: If the meals tax referendum is 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

  • 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

* Based upon state law, the county’s meals tax would not apply in the towns of Herndon, Vienna or Clifton. The Town of Clifton does not have a meals tax.

2014 Task Force to Consider a Meals Tax Referendum

More Information on the County's Budget and Taxes







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