Campaign to repeal the meals tax in Richmond

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A Richmond restaurant owner is using the internet to take on City Hall. He's pushing for the repeal of the city's meal tax.

Richmond's meal tax has been in place for 15 years. It's slowly crept up to 6% and local businesses say the tax is hurting their business - driving customers into the surrounding counties.

Eat out in Richmond and you pay a 6% meal tax. That's on top of a 5% state tax. Altogether -- 11 cents for every dollar spent on food.

"It's outrageous," said Jake Crocker.

Crocker owns two restaurants side by side in Richmond's uptown. He says customers notice the higher bills because of Richmond's tax.

"They've heard specifically that people won't come and dine in the city at our fine independent city restaurants because of the meal's tax," he said.

He started this repeal the meal tax facebook campaign. He already has more than 540 followers. He's also started an online petition. Crocker's movement is even catching on with some city council members, like Reva Trammell.

Though, Councilman Marty Jewell doesn't give the idea, much chance.

"Signing petitions to eliminate the meal's tax without proposing some alternative to replace those revenues in the midst of economic difficulty, I think, is futile," Jewell said.

Crocker will speak before city council on Monday about his effort to repeal the meal tax.

So how does Richmond rate with other cities? Covington has the highest meal tax at 7.5%. Roanoke has a 7% tax. Eight other cities, including Lynchburg, Norfolk, and Suffolk, are higher than Richmond with 6.5% taxes.

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