Meal Tax

The Meals Tax is imposed upon every purchaser of a meal in the City of Alexandria of any prepared food, not otherwise exempt, which is ready for immediate consumption. The Meals Tax is in addition to the State and Local Sales Tax.

Page updated on May 10, 2021 at 1:05 PM
Make a Meal Sales Tax Payment

Due Dates

Meal sales taxes are due the last day of the month following the month being reported.

Month Taxes
Collected from Customer
Due Date
January February 28
February March 31
March April 30
April May 31
May June 30
June July 31
July August 31
August September 30
September October 31
October November 30
November December 31
December January 31

Computation of Tax

The Meals Tax rate is 5% (Title 3, Chapter 2, Article N, Code of the City of Alexandria). Additional information on taxable and nontaxable items is provided in the Meals Tax Guidelines.

Filing Procedures

Every entity collecting the tax must file a return with the City on taxes collected on meals. Tax return and payments should be filed with the City on or before the last day of each month covering the amount of tax collected during the preceding month.

Persons liable for the tax must file returns with:

Business Tax Section--Meals Tax
Revenue Division, Department of Finance
P.O. Box 34842
Alexandria, VA 22334-0842

Payments may be submitted (along with the returns) to the address above or submitted online by  eCheck or  credit card. Returns may not be filed electronically at this time.

Tax returns may be obtained from:

Business Tax Section
301 King Street, Room 1700
Alexandria, VA 22314
Email:   Email button(1) 

Or downloaded here:

FY 2020 Meals Tax Return (July 1, 2019 - June 30, 2020)

Prior year returns can be found  here.


Seller - Includes, but is not limited to, cafeterias, eateries, drugstore luncheonettes, bars, restaurants, diners, and public and private organizations whose meals are sold for profit.

Meal - All food and beverages, including alcoholic beverages, offered for sale to be eaten at one time to satisfy the buyer's appetite.

Excluded from Taxation

  • Food and beverages sold by public or private day care centers, elementary and secondary schools, and colleges or universities;
  • Meals sold by volunteer fire departments and rescue squads; nonprofit churches or other religious bodies; educational, charitable, fraternal, or benevolent organizations, on an occasional basis, not exceeding three times per calendar year as a fundraising activity, the gross proceeds of which are to be used by such church, religious body or organization exclusively for nonprofit educational, charitable, benevolent, or religious purposes;
  • Meals provided by churches that serve meals for their members as a regular part of their religious observances;
  • Meals provided by hospitals, medical clinics, convalescent homes, nursing homes, or other extended care facilities to patients or residents thereof;
  • Meals provided by homes for the aged, infirm, handicapped, battered women, narcotic addicts, or alcoholics;
  • Meals provided by age-restricted apartment complexes or residences with restaurants, not open to the public, where meals are served and fees are charged for such food and beverages and are included in rental fees;
  • Meals provided by a public or private nonprofit charitable organization or establishment to elderly, infirm, blind handicapped, or needy persons in their homes or at central locations; and
  • Meals provided by private establishments that contract with the appropriate agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia to offer food, food products, or beverages for immediate consumption at concession prices to elderly, infirm, blind, handicapped, or needy persons in their homes or at central locations.
  • Food and beverages for consumption that are paid directly by the Commonwealth, a political subdivision of the Commonwealth or the United States.
  • Food purchased by nonprofit organizations, churches, state agencies, and local governments that have Virginia sales tax exemption certificates and meet certain requirements. In order for the purchases to qualify for the exemption, the nonprofit organization, church, or government entity must demonstrate all of the following:
    • The provision of prepared meals, catering, and related services supports a function, mission, service, or purpose of the organization.
    • The charge for prepared meals, catering, and services is billed to and paid for by the organization claiming the sales tax exemption.
    • The organization that claims the exemption controls when, how, and who consumes the prepared food or catered meals.   
    • For more information, see Tax Bulletin 16-3.

Bonds for Fiduciary Taxes

Any business more than two months past due in the payment of admissions, meal sales, or transient lodging taxes may be required to post a bond for these taxes.  Since fiduciary taxes collected from customers are held in trust by the business owner, they should not be commingled with the business' operating funds.

Business Records and Reports Subject to Audit

Any person liable for the tax should keep current and accurate records for a period of five years for audit by the City.