Richmond councilwoman urges city to relieve the local tax burden on restaurants

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — As restaurants continue to be hit hard by social distancing guidelines during the virus pandemic, a Richmond councilwoman is seeking to rescind taxes these businesses are required to pay.

Drafted resolutions by Councilwoman Kim Gray, who represents the city’s 2nd District, indicate Richmond should do away with the city’s meals tax for February through May, and restaurants should be refunded 50 percent of license taxes they’ve paid for 2020.

Michelle Williams, the co-owner of Richmond Restaurant Group which runs eight local restaurants, says the tax amnesty proposals would help, especially since she says the offer to use curb-side pickup and delivery has not been perfect.

“It’s not really helpful to us, it’s us doing our duty is really kind of the way we see it,” Williams said. “We will do it as long as we can, I just don’t know how long that is. We need to make sure that in doing it, we are not leaving our bank accounts dry so that we don’t have anything to come back to on the other side.”

The first of Gray’s proposals would rebate restaurants what they already paid to the city in meals taxes, which is 7.5 percent of the cost for prepared food.

The second proposal asks the city to refund half of what restaurants paid for an operating license this year.

“Those are pre-paid gross taxes on their gross receipts. They estimate what they anticipate the revenues will be for the year,” Gray said.

Both resolutions are in the preliminary drafting phase and have not yet been formally introduced to other council members. No specific date has been set when this will occur, as council members work to hold meetings online amid social distancing measures.

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