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Mark Cole, BPOL and local officials
We wrote here about Del. Mark Cole‘s (R-88th) proposal to eliminate the BPOL tax for a year. Dan Telvock has written here and here about Spotsylvania Supervisors’ reactions to that idea. Hap Connors and Benjamin Pitts both basically said losing BPOL revenue would just end up making localities raise taxes even more.
Fredericksburg City Council members are now expressing similar sentiments to Cole via e-mail.
"The General Assembly by its actions is forcing local government to raise taxes on property owners," Mayor Tom Tomzak wrote to Cole. "Mark, if the BPOL is suspended, where do we make up the gap?"
Cole responded: "How much tax revenue will the city get from businesses that go out of business? Businesses are struggling; we should be trying to help them stay in business by reducing the burdens on them. I would encourage the council to go ahead and suspend the BPOL tax now, regardless of what the General Assembly does with my proposal. This will allow you to collect more revenue from them in the long run."
Councilwoman Mary Katherine Greenlaw wrote back that she doesn’t think cutting BPOL is going to make the difference between surviving or shutting down for a lot of businesses.
"To remove the BPOL from all business and professional services in order to help a few is to attempt to kill a gnat by swatting an elephant. It unecessarily reduces the tax on most businesses and removes a significant source of income for local governments," Greenlaw wrote. "I might also add that the BPOL is not that large a percentage of any business or profession’s expenses. If the BPOL is putting them down, removing it is probably not going to make the difference between success or failure."
Councilman Matt Kelly also weighed in.
"I would go so far as to say that business gets a better return on their local taxes than on what they pay the state. On that point I noticed that there are currently (30) bills before the General Assembly related to tax relief none of which will impact small business," Kelly wrote. "So what plans are there at the General Assembly to reduce the tax burden on small businesses? My only request is that should be General Assembly decide to provide some relief that you don’t pass the revenue shortfall back on the localities."