Farmville council votes on proposed meals tax penalties

Published 6:09 am Friday, May 10, 2024

The amount of the meals tax collected by the Town of Farmville isn’t changing. Neither is the percentage or anything else about the actual tax itself. The only thing town council members agreed to with Wednesday’s vote was to put in place some penalties, for those business owners who are late in turning over their meals tax payments. 

During their Wednesday, May 8 meeting, Farmville council members unanimously adopted the request from Town Finance Director Julie Moore. When she brought the proposal to council members during their work session a week earlier, Moore had said she was just looking for some structure.
“We want to make sure we have guidance to know when we need to do each step we’re allowed to do,” Moore told the council. 

And that’s what the plan adopted this past Wednesday does. 

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“This is an internal policy of how we go about (steps) if people don’t pay, the process of the staff calling, emailing, then after that, another step to eventually getting a warrant out if it really has to go that far,” said Farmville Town Manager Scott Davis. 

What does the new ordinance say?

Businesses have to submit reports and payments for meal taxes to the town staff by the 20th of each month. And the new ordinance won’t change any of that. 

Under the newly adopted ordinance, if town staff haven’t received a report and payment by the 24th or 25th of the month, then the Finance Department would either call or email the business, reminding them that the tax is due. If the money still hasn’t come in by the 1st of the following month, any delinquent businesses will get a formal letter from the finance department. If payment and reports haven’t been submitted by the 20th of the second month, meaning they are now a full month behind in payments, the Town Attorney will send out a letter, informing the business if the money isn’t paid, they could face legal action.
Two weeks after that letter from the Town Attorney goes out, the ordinance calls for the Finance Department to “coordinate with the Farmville Police Department to discuss initiating legal action against the delinquent business.” 

What is Farmville’s meals tax?

Just a quick reminder what the meals tax is. The tax is exactly what it sounds like, a type of sales tax levied on all prepared food and drinks sold in the town, with grocery items being the exception. And we said businesses because this tax includes more than just restaurants. Food or drink sold from any business is included.
There are certain exceptions to Farmville’s tax. Food purchased through a vending machine does not apply, nor do meals served by churches for their members as part of their religious observances. Public or private elementary or secondary schools, colleges and universities may not charge this tax to their students or employees, nor may it be applied to food sold in “hospitals, medical clinics, convalescent homes, nursing homes, or other extended care facilities to patients or residents.”
The town has had a meals tax of some kind in place since 1988, when it was introduced at a rate of 3%. In 1992, council members voted to increase it to 4.5%. Then in 2003, it went up again to 6.5% with one final increase coming in 2011, when the council voted to raise the tax to where it currently stands at 7%.
So what does that mean? When food purchases are made in town, people pay the 7%, plus the 5.3% Virginia General Sales Tax, of which 4.3% goes to the state and 1% goes to the town.
How does that stand up against other meals taxes in the region? Buckingham County is at 4%, the town of Appomattox is at 8%, Charlotte County is at 4% and Lunenburg is also at 4%.