Proposed Meals Tax: What To Know Now

Photo of a restaurant meal.



Should we have a meals tax in Fairfax County?

On June 7, the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on placing that question on the Nov. 8 election ballot.  If the Board approves the referendum, then on Election Day you will be able to vote yes or no on a meals tax in our county.

How Much Revenue Would a Meals Tax Raise?

The Department of Management and Budget estimates that $96 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.


Why Have a Meals Tax?

A meals tax would diversify the county’s tax revenue base. A 4 percent tax is equivalent to over 4 cents on the current (FY 2016) real estate tax rate. When the real estate tax is increased, this impacts all property-owning residents, regardless of their ability to pay. If a meals tax is approved by voters, it would apply to tourists, commuters and travelers, as well as residents who choose to dine out. For example, it’s estimated that tourists would generate $22.8 million in one year.


Where Would the Meals Tax Money Go?

The Board is scheduled to vote on this proposed revenue distribution at the June 7 meeting:

Fairfax County Public Schools
70 percent
Allocation would be determined by the School Board
County Government
30 percent
Services, capital improvements (fire/police stations, libraries, schools) and property tax relief


What’s the Meals Tax in Other Counties and Cities?

Counties in Virginia, including ours, can only establish a meals tax if a referendum is approved by voters (learn more about the Dillon Rule). Examples of our neighbor 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
Visit Meals Tax Website 


County Executive Ed Long provided a detailed, written response to the Board of Supervisors last month:


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