Fairfax County considering restaurant meal tax - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Fairfax County considering restaurant meal tax

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There is a food fight being waged in Fairfax County that could have diners dishing out more money for the food they eat in restaurants, hotels and grocery stores.

County officials have asked a task force to recommend whether to draft a meals tax referendum and also how the generated money would be spent.

County officials are considering a four percent tax on food and drinks prepared at restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, and even doughnut and coffee shops.

The money generated, which could be as much as $88 million, would be used for schools, public safety, parks and libraries.

Some residents support the tax because they say schools desperately need the money, but not everyone has the stomach for a new tax.

Some argue residents are already paying higher real estate and sewer taxes. They believe a meals tax is too much and will drive people away.

Jacob Park owns Ariake Sushi Restaurant in Reston. He thinks the tax is a bad idea.

"I think it would be tough on the consumers,” he says. “Basically if we raise taxes, they'd be less inclined to spend more."

Saiyud Dhoieam owns Pilin Thai restaurant in Vienna. She is caught in the middle of the sizzling debate. As a restaurant owner, she thinks the tax may put a burden on some of her customers. But as a resident, she believes the money is needed for county schools and amenities. She says those things are why she and others moved to Fairfax County and want to stay.

"I say yes, go for it, because we need the community to be nice and better,” she says.

The meals tax issue was brought up 22 years ago and put to a referendum. It was soundly defeated.

The task force will present its recommendations to the county board on June 17.

After that, officials will decide if they do or don't want to put the issue on the November ballot.

Other Virginia counties already have a meals tax. They include Arlington County, Alexandria and several smaller municipalities. D.C. also has a meals tax as do several cities in Maryland.

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