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Arlington County Has a Dog License Tax. Who Knew?

During each year's Arlington County Board budget work sessions, many questions are raised about the Manager's proposed budget. This year is no different. Those questions and the staff responses are posted as follow-up to County Board work sessions. Over the next several weeks, your humble scribe will growl about some of them.

Material is updated as the Board proceeds through its work session schedule. Consequently, it's important to check back for updates.

At the budget work session on March 18, 2015, Board member John Vihstadt asked about the dog licenses tax. Here is staff's April 6, 2015 response.

"The County Board sets the dog license tax by ordinance (Arlington County Code § 2-12.B), subject to a maximum rate of $10.00 per year prescribed by state law (Virginia Code § 3.2-6528). Arlington’s current license tax is $10.00 per year and $25.00 for a three-year license. The current rates were established in 1986. In FY 2014, revenues from the dog license tax totaled $59,664."

Perhaps it's because the county's total take from the dog license tax isn't that large -- $59,664 -- that the County Board hasn't asked the General Assembly to update the maximum allowable dog license tax since the current rates were established. However, if the tax had kept pace with inflation, it would now be $21.42, based upon the Department of Labor's CPI Inflation Calculator. While we take a hard look at taxes in general, this tax seems to look more like a fee, and given the county's penchant to build dog parks, it seems like the time has arrived to increase the dog license tax.

Growls readers who have not yet told members of the Arlington County Board that taxpayers in Arlington County are overtaxed and under-served are urged to take a few minutes to tell Board members to cut the real estate tax rate. Just click-on the link below:

  • Call the County Board office at (703) 228-3130.

And tell them ACTA sent you.

UPDATE (4/17/15): HT to "a little dog" for the information that: "DPR (Xxxxxxxxxxx) at one point estimated there were 20,000 dogs in the County, as justification for dog parks.  Maybe a more nuanced solution is to require a dog park fee (with appropriate tag and associated fine) for those choosing to use them, particularly as the County has literally spent millions on dog parks, and even more money for annual maintenance.  Maybe leave the registration fee at $10, $25 p.a. to use the dog parks, and a 'get-your-attention' fine for non-compliance.  AWLA can do the compliance...we pay them a hefty amount each year for other services, and some of the new fees could be used to pay them."

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