Bill removing income tax referendum passes senate

A proposed bill would allow Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax to levy an income tax without a referendum.

A proposed bill would allow Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax to levy an income tax without a referendum.

A bill in the Virginia General Assembly that removes the requirement that localities hold a referendum to enact an income tax has passed the senate.

Senate Bill 1313 would amend § 58.1-540 of the Virginia Code that allows a select number of localities to pass an income tax for transportation purposes. The City of Fairfax, Fairfax County and several other Northern Virginia localities are permitted to levy the tax. Currently, state law requires localities to hold a referendum on the issue. Under the new law, a tax could be levied by a majority vote by either the city council or the board of supervisors.

On Feb. 5, the bill passed the senate with 27 votes in support and 11 against.

“This is a mistake,” Senator Chap Peterson (D-37) wrote in a Feb. 5 blog post. “While income tax can raise a lot of revenue, it also is a tax that is EXCLUSIVELY paid by Virginia tax filers.  It is not paid by out-of-state users of our highway, who are 30% of our highway traffic.  It is not paid by Virginia residents who file out-of-state returns.  It is not paid by ‘cash only’ businesses.”

“If agreed by the House, this bill would place a surcharge on northern Virginians, by requiring them to pay an extra tax for the same state service enjoyed by others for free,” Peterson said.

The bill was first introduced in the senate by Walter Stosch, a Republican representing Henrico County.