A proposal to increase taxes for businesses is making a reappearance.
Raising the Programmable Computer Equipment and Peripherals tax is, once again, on the table for the the Board of County Supervisors (BOCS).
Chairman Corey Stewart and Supervisor Pete Candland are recommending that the rate increase to $2 per $100 of value.
The measure would impact businesses that use certain pieces of technology, including laptops and monitors.
Created by the board more than 25 years ago, the tax sought to draw data centers to the county.
Since then, the rate in Prince William County has remained steady at $1.25.
Last year, Stewart suggested increasing it to $3.70.
Candland has discussed the idea with board members during the past few years.
If the proposal is approved, it would allow county officials to lower tax rates for residents from 1.125 to 1.115 per $100 of value.
“We’d like to decrease the burden on the residents and then also make some other investments in human services around the mental health and wait times, and so we were trying to figure out a way on how to fund those positions,” Candland said.
Who will be impacted?
While the proposed increase appears to offer benefits it doesn’t paint the full picture, according to the Prince William Chamber of Commerce’s Director of Communications and Government Affairs Ross Snare.
“It all sounds great until you really start to get into the numbers,” Snare said.
Data centers choose to settle in Prince William County, but so do smaller companies.
Raising the tax rate creates an “unstable business environment,” according to Snare.
“If businesses are wanting to come here and expand, we need to have a stable and predictable business environment — and a friendly one, at that,” he explained.
Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire Owner ST Billingsley expressed concerns about what peripheral equipment will be taxed.
“Will that include check-out equipment, like at the grocery store or Lowe’s? What about security cameras, WiFi routers or phone systems?” Billingsley said. “Even though it’s proposed that the residential tax decrease, if the government imposes this technology tax rate on the businesses, we will have to raise prices. So, the consumer is ultimately going to be paying for it, and we don’t want to raise prices.”
Data centers provide more than 80 percent of the revenue generated through the Programmable Computer Equipment and Peripherals tax.
They will be most impacted if an increased rate was implemented, according to Candland.
Many, he added, will come out ahead.
“For most small business owners who live in the county, it’ll be offset by their reduction in their residential tax bill,” Candland said.