Mount Vernon Letter: Richmond Owes Northern Virginia

Mount Vernon Letter: Richmond Owes Northern Virginia

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors' recent vote to place a meals tax referendum on the November ballot is just the latest affront to the taxpayers of Fairfax County. We have to face facts: Our State and local legislators have proven to be incapable of gaining fairness in the distribution of tax revenues from Richmond for Northern Virginia.

This week, I spoke to a knowledgeable official in the County's Budget office. She informed me that in fiscal year 2014, the most recent for which they have data, residents and visitors to Fairfax County sent $3.2 billion to Richmond in income taxes, sales taxes, and recordation fees for real estate transactions. In return, Richmond sent the county $750 million, only 23.4 percent of the amount sent to Richmond. Without targeting any particular political party, our politicians have been incapable of gaining us our fair share of the revenues sent to Richmond as the economic engine for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Their typical solution is to increase our taxes to pay for our needs where we ought to be able to fulfill our needs, without having to increase our taxes, out of the revenues already sent to Richmond.

In 2013, the Virginia sales tax was increased to 5.3 percent, however, an additional 0.7 percent was added in the Northern Virginia region earmarked for transportation issues. If our politicians were effective in gaining us our equitable share of the tax money we send to Richmond, it would not have been necessary to add that 0.7 percent to the sales tax.

Now, our Board of Supervisors wants to add a meals tax, claiming they need to do so to diversify the sources of revenue they can tap, which they claim are limited to real estate taxes and BPOL taxes. Of course, an equitable share of the tax money we send to Richmond is another large source of revenue.

The Board of Supervisors has stated that they anticipate the meals tax, if enacted, will generate $96 million in additional annual revenues. In promoting approval of this new tax, they explain that they intend to split the new revenues 70-30 between educational needs (70 percent) and county services, capital improvements and property tax relief (30 percent). Looking at the $3.2 billion revenue stream traveling to Richmond from Fairfax County, if our politicians had the wherewithal to gain just a 3 percent increase, from 23.4 percent to just 26.4 percent, still barely a quarter of what we send to Richmond, that additional 3 percent would generate precisely the $96 million they now propose to extract from taxpayers, residents and visitors who have already paid that money in the form of the $3.2 billion sent to Richmond. Voting down the meals tax referendum will signal the Board of Supervisors that citizens want them to work together to gain our fair share from Richmond. Failure to do so is unacceptable.

These efforts by our politicians amount to double taxation, taxing us where we have already paid the taxes that ought to be able to be used for those purposes without need to tax us yet again. It is bad enough that Northern Virginia has to support the rest of the Commonwealth. Worse yet, we end up paying higher taxes than the rest of the Commonwealth for the privilege of supporting them. This is unacceptable. It must change.

The time has come for our politicians of all political stripes to band together and collectively demand a more equitable share of the tax revenues sent to Richmond so that the needs of Northern Virginia as the economic engine of Virginia can be fully met without double taxation. If our politicians are unwilling to do so, they need to step down and be replaced with people willing and able to do so.

H. Jay Spiegel

Mount Vernon