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?

The Department of Management and Budget estimates that $99 million in revenue would be generated from a 4 percent meals tax in the first year it was implemented. This estimate is based on calendar year 2015 taxable sales of food and drinks. (It should be noted that approximately $3 million of the $99 million in revenue would go to back to restaurants/businesses to offset costs of implementing the meals tax. Therefore, an estimated $96 million would be allocated as noted below.)

  • 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 voted to include 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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