Huntington Mayor asks to repeal Business and Occupant tax for retail and restaurants

Local News

HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — Restaurants and retail businesses in Huntington may be getting a tax break soon as the Mayor of Huntington is pushing to repeal the Business and Occupation Tax.

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams introduced the ordinance to the city council earlier this week.

The city had suspended the B&O tax on a quarterly basis since April of 2020 as a form of COVID-19 relief, but this ordinance would make it permanent.

On a busy Friday in downtown Huntington, a Mustang club pulled in to eat at Mexican restaurant El Ranchito.

It’s one of the many restaurants and retail businesses in Huntington that would be removed from the city’s business and occupant tax.

“I think it’s great especially at a time like this with everything going on with the pandemic,” said Virginia Abbott with the club.

Josh Whisman, staff at El Ranchito says he thinks it’s awesome the Mayor wants to help.

“I think anything we can do to save a buck right now after the past year dealing with closings and only to-go orders, anything that we can do to save is going to be good; we’re a small family-owned business and we need to find ways to cut corners where we can,” he said.

Whisman says they’re close to the Marshall campus and they rely on students, but last year there weren’t any students.

According to the city, the B&O tax was bringing in approximately $2 million annually from retail and restaurants, but since temporarily repealing it, they say revenue from the 1% sales tax has increased significantly, and they’re confident this revenue will help offset any loss.

At El Ranchito, the owner says they’re not sure exactly how much that could amount to for them.

Under the B&O tax return, the bracket for retail and restaurants is .0025% of total gross sales for the year.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the state, this tax break could go a long way for Huntington businesses.

“When we go out there’s not like a lot of people out, now when you do go out everyone’s back to wearing masks again and it’s just like taking it back to last year basically,” said Abbott.

The Huntington City Council will vote on the ordinance during their next meeting on September 13th.

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