Virginia proposes alarm monitoring tax

Two pieces of pending legislation in the Virginia General Assembly could place a monthly tax on monitored security and fire alarm systems.

According to a statement issued by the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association, one of the bills, which is before the Senate, calls for a tax of $2.50 per month, per account that would have to be paid by alarm dealers in the state, regardless of whether the dealer collects the tax from the end user. The other bill which is before the House, would place a $1 per month, per account tax that would also have to be paid by dealers.

John Kochensparger, president of the Virginia Burglar and Fire Alarm Association, said that the passage of a monitoring tax would undoubtedly lead to an increase in fees for alarm system owners.

"Monthly monitoring fees for every home and business’ burglary or fire system would go up," he said.

Steve Doyle, executive vice president of the Central Station Alarm Association, said that the burden of the proposed taxes will not just fall on dealers, but on central station as well because they will likely be charged with collecting and forwarding the taxes to the state.

"It would be a logistical burden in addition to a financial burden, but more than that, it sets a precedent," he said. "It sets a tone, which is unfortunately coming to dominate our country… while all companies during times of financial duress, we all have to cut back, we cut back personally, we cut back within our company, we watch our dollar a lot more closely, but unfortunately, municipalities don’t do that."

Though dubbed the "Line of Duty Act," to help finance the Line of Duty Health Benefits Trust Fund for police officers, firefighters and other state workers disabled while performing their jobs, Doyle said the bills were nothing more than ways to generate revenue under the guise of a good cause.

"While the cause of supporting some of the union efforts may sound laudable, it’s just an example of another tax that is being placed on more and more people. Where does it stop," Doyle added. "It’s is becoming all to easy for states and municipalities in this country to all sit back and say how do we collect more revenues from more people. At what point have you over milked the cow?"

The House bill has been sent to the appropriations committee for consideration, while the Senate bill is expected to be forwarded to the finance committee on Wednesday.

"(This tax) creates additional fees on homeowners and businesses that are trying to protect themselves and they’re being singled out to fund something that should be funded by every Virginian, not just people who have taken measures to protect their homes or businesses," Kochensparger said.