Letters to the Editor: November 3 – 9, 2016
Meals Tax is Better Than Higher Property Taxes
As a fiscal conservative, to me it’s pretty simple – the meals tax is one of the only tools we have as an alternative to property taxes. It’s widely agreed that Virginia counties rely too heavily on property taxes for revenue, forced by state laws barring them from other sources that cities and towns have (such as taxing alcohol or increasing tax on tobacco) and returning to us just 22 cents on every state revenue dollar generated in Fairfax County.
There’s a reason why most Virginia counties have adopted a meals tax. It’s why the McLean Citizens Association (no shrinking violet on fiscal restraint) and the venerable League of Women Voters are among the many groups that have analyzed it and support it. Every dollar collected this way is better (including almost 1/3 cheaper) than that dollar coming from real estate taxes.
Adopting it also will show Richmond that we’re taking advantage of the one alternative revenue tool already available – rather than isolating ourselves in this predicament – bolstering our case in seeking a fairer share of state revenue returned to us.
People should not conflate the meals tax question with spending issues; a “no” vote on this does not promote fiscal restraint, or substitute for citizen vigilance and holding our elected officials accountable on program performance and spending. This referendum is not the logical or useful place to register concerns about spending and fiscal restraint. Those matters need to be addressed continually in their own right, via political scrutiny of the budgets and spending and operations.
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