ARLINGTON, Va. —
An independent bookstore in Arlington County is facing a major financial hit. Eileen McGervey, the owner of One More Page Books says she recently received a notice that her real estate taxes would be raised by 30%.
McGervey penned a letter to the Arlington County Board on July 3 asking for relief or guidance to help with the rising taxes.
“As the owner of One More Page Books, I want to share my concern about the impact of the recent increase in real estate taxes,” McGervey wrote. “We, like many small businesses, operate with razor thin margins and struggle with the need to juggle money when paying bills.”
Customers have decided to step in to help meet that goal by donating to their silent auction which offers everything from dinner with Washington Post sports writers, a free subscription to Red Truck Bakery and homemade quilts.
McGervey noted the store’s profits are much smaller compared to giant company Amazon, which has taken the area by storm.
“While our 10 employees and nominal profits are dwarfed by Amazon, we pay county and state sales tax, county business license and federal taxes," she said. "We are dedicated members of our community and know that, while no one likes to pay taxes, taxes are necessary for the infrastructure and programs we all enjoy."
McGervey cited the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, stating that although Amazon reportedly doubled its profits to $11.2 billion, they did not pay their federal income taxes.
The County responded shortly after on July 11.
“This Board greatly values all of Arlington’s small businesses, but an independent bookstore holds a special place in our hearts,” County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said.
Dorsey explained that the county has no say in the allocation of taxes and refunds for commercial and real estate property. He also said the board was not primarily responsible for the tax increase.
“The owner of the building pays the real estate taxes, and it is up to the owner of the building to decide how that tax responsibility is distributed among the building’s tenants,” Dorsey added.
The county said the condominium that houses the bookstore saw a property value increase from $2,351,100 in 2018 to $5,591,100 in 2019. Despite the administrative appeal filed by the property owner resulting in a $700,000 deduction, the owner still has to pay a $56,485 tax bill for the 2019 calendar year.
Dorsey said the county is unable to provide a rebate or any other form of release for tenants like the bookstore who owe a portion of their taxes to a private entity.
“I would hope that One More Page is able to work out some sort of agreement with the owner of the building that will allow the bookstore to continue its excellent service to our community,“ Dorsey said.
In reference to McGervey’s comments about Amazon, Dorsey responded with the following: “Some of the many concerned residents and patrons of One More Page who have reached out to the County Board have asked whether the County’s pay-for-performance incentives to Amazon triggered the increase in the CY 2019 tax rate. The answer is no. Arlington’s pay-for-performance incentives to Amazon will not result in any loss of tax revenues for the County’s budget.”
Dorsey said he hopes the store is able to work out an agreement with the property owner to allow the store to “continue its excellent service to our community. “
To learn more about the silent auction and other ways to help One More Page Books visit their website.