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La Vista Looks at Restaurant, Drinking Place Occupation Tax

By Scott Stewart 

The Daily Record 

La Vista – A restaurant tax has been proposed for a Sarpy County community in advance of a major development opening its doors. 

Officials in La Vista announced they are considering a 1.5% tax on restaurants and drinking places that is expected to bring in up to $700,000 annually to the city. 

The proposal comes as La Vista is poised to begin opening several new restaurants and bars in its new City Centre development on 84th Street. City Ventures, the project developer, announced in late May that eight restaurant and bar concepts would be among the first to open at City Centre starting this summer and fall. 

A news release from the City of La Vista states that officials want to use the restaurant tax to provide fiscal strength after “rapid growth, high demand for resources, public infrastructure and pressure for additional staff.” 

A restaurant tax is a form of occupation tax, where businesses remit the revenue directly to the city, according to the Nebraska Department of Revenue. In general, businesses could choose to itemize the tax on receipts or absorb it into its pricing, but if it’s itemized, sales tax applies to that amount as well, since the state regards collecting money for occupation taxes as a business cost. 

   La Vista’s tax would apply to any restaurant or drinking place, both alcoholic or nonalcoholic, to include cafes, bakeries, coffee shops, food trucks, caterers and food and drinking places in grocery and convenience stores. 

   “Businesses that provide food and beverage are vital to the City’s overall economy and while the City welcomes the many visitors these businesses bring into the community, they also impact municipal services,” the city said in a release. “This tax is being contemplated as a means to share the burden equally with non-residents and residents like.” 

La Vista would join Omaha and other jurisdictions in levying a special tax on restaurants, which is similar to lodging taxes placed on hotels and related businesses. 

   The proposed tax drew the ire of Governor Pete Ricketts Monday, taking to Twitter to criticize the plan, calling it “bad for families and business!” 

   Omaha’s 2.5% restaurant tax brings in about $34 million each year, according to figures shared at a city-sponsored town hall meeting. The city also collects an even higher rate in certain districts, such as Blackstone, which has an extra 1.95% tax on food and beverages to support the Blackstone Hotel redevelopment. 

   Lincoln collects a 2% restaurant occupation tax, and Ralston charges a 2.5% restaurant tax. 

   Bellevue considered a restaurant tax last year to raise funds for the fire department, but the city didn’t proceed with a formal proposal, and no vote was taken. 

   The La Vista City Council will consider its proposed restaurant tax at its Aug. 20 meeting, which will be held at 6 p.m. at La Vista City Hall, 8116 Park View Blvd. 

   Additional information on the La Vista proposal is available at cityoflavista.org/restaurants.

 
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