Reston Town Center Christmas Tree Lighting & Sing-Along with Reston Chorale

Reston Town Center Christmas Tree Lighting & Sing-Along with Reston Chorale
Photo by Modern Reston

Sunday, February 10, 2013

New local income tax for Northern Virginia?

Senate Bill #1313  has made it to the House of Delegates with an amendment, supported by our Sen. Howell, that would allow Northern Virginia county supervisors to impose up to a one percent income tax on top of the state income tax "for each taxable year of every resident of such county or city or corporation having income from sources within such county or city."  At present, Virginians are protected from such local government overreach by a requirement that any such tax increases be approved by referendum.  None have ever been presented to the electorate in a referendum. 

Here is the bill as it is currently proposed:

SENATE BILL NO. 1313
Offered January 17, 2013
A BILL to amend and reenact § 58.1-540 of the Code of Virginia and to repeal § 58.1-549 of the Code of Virginia, relating to local income tax.
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Patron-- Stosch
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Referred to Committee on Finance
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Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:
1.  That § 58.1-540 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows:
§ 58.1-540. Levy of the tax.
A. The Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William, and the Cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, Manassas Park, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach hereby authorized to levy a local income tax at any increment of one-quarter percent up to a maximum rate of one percent upon the Virginia taxable income as determined in § 58.1-322 for an individual, § 58.1-361 for a fiduciary of an estate or trust, or § 58.1-402 for a corporation, for each taxable year of every resident of such county or city or corporation having income from sources within such county or city, subject to the limitations of subsection B of this section. The same rate shall apply to individuals, fiduciaries and corporations.
B. The authority to levy a local income tax as provided in subsection A may be exercised by a county or city governing body only if approved in a referendum within the county or city. The referendum shall be held in accordance with § 24.2-684. The referendum may be initiated either by a resolution of the governing body of the county or city or on the filing of a petition signed by a number of registered voters of the county or city equal in number to ten percent of the number of voters registered in the county or city on January 1 of the year in which the petition is filed with the circuit court of such county or city. The clerk of the circuit court shall publish notice of the election in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or city once a week for three consecutive weeks prior to the election. The ballot used shall be printed to read as follows:
"Shall the governing body of (.... name of county or city ....) have the authority to levy a local income tax of up to one percent for transportation purposes in accordance with § 58.1-540 of the Code of Virginia?
[]Yes
[]No"
If the voters by a majority vote approve the authority of the local governing body to levy a local income tax, the The tax may be imposed by the adoption of an ordinance by the governing body of the county or city in accordance with general or special law, and the tax may be thereafter enacted, modified or repealed as any other tax the governing body is empowered to levy subject only to the limitations herein. No, except that no ordinance levying a local income tax shall be repealed unless and until all debts or other obligations of the county or city to which such revenues are pledged or otherwise committed have been paid or provision made for payment.
2. That § 58.1-549 of the Code of Virginia is repealed.
 An article by Scott McCaffrey in yesterday's Arlington Sun-Gazette tracks reaction to the bill.  It begins:

Is it a back-door attempt at a tax increase, or the best way to help fund transportation improvements across the region?
That could be the question if the House of Delegates goes along with a state Senate proposal giving Northern Virginia localities the ability to impose a local income tax without first going to voters for permission.

The measure, tucked into an unrelated tax measure patroned by state Sen. Walter Stosch (R-Virginia Beach), passed the state Senate 27-11 on the last day before “crossover,” when bills in each house have to be sent to the other house.

Stosch’s measure ostensibly is designed to add the city of Norfolk to the list of localities across Virginia allowed to impose a local income tax (up to 1 percent) to generate revenue for transportation purposes. But the bill also removes the requirement that Northern Virginia localities hold referendums before the tax can be imposed. . . .
 Click here to read the rest of the Sun-Gazette article. 

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