Letter to the Editor: Meals taxes are regressive

Letter to the Editor: Meals taxes are regressive

To the editor:

The proposed meals-tax increase before city council would hurt Alexandria residents who are struggling to afford housing (Alexa Epitropoulos, “Ahead of budget adoption, restaurateurs voice opposition to proposed meals tax increase,” April 29, 2018).

The proposed tax hike would leave Alexandria with a meals-tax rate of 11 percent – nearly double the rates in Fairfax County and Maryland.

Worse, it would negatively and disproportionately impact low-income Alexandria residents. The shares of after-tax income spent on meals away from home by households in the lowest and highest income deciles are 20.4 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a share of income, low-income Alexandria families would pay five times more than high-income families under the proposed tax increase.

The proposed tax increase would further disadvantage low-income families by eliminating job opportunities for low-skilled residents. It would drive restaurant starts to other jurisdictions and leave existing restaurants with less money with which to hire entry-level workers.

How is denying income to low-income Alexandria families supposed to help them afford housing?

-Michael F. Cannon, Alexandria