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Virginia Court Hears Challenge to Taxing Power of Local Authority

By: Joseph Bishop-Henchman

The D.C. Examiner reports on yesterday’s argument in Arlington County Circuit Court, involving the constitutionality of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority’s power to impose taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. es and issue bonds:

Only elected governments have the power to issue bonds, levy taxes, and appropriate money under Virginia’s Constitution, argued Patrick McSweeney, an attorney representing the [plaintiffs].[…]

“The general assembly can do anything it is not prohibited from doing and it’s not prohibited in this case,” said Deputy Attorney General Francis Ferguson, who supported [the defendants’] arguments Monday.

A ruling by Judge Benjamin Kendrick is expected quickly, perhaps today. This suit is separate from challenges to the statewide traffic offense surcharges.

UPDATE: Judge Kendrick ruled in favor of the Authority on all counts, upholding the Authority’s new taxes on home sales, car rentals and hotel rooms, and new fees for auto registrations and safety inspections (all taking effect in January). The plaintiffs stated that they will appeal to the state supreme court.