An Omaha tax that provided a key source of revenue to balance next year's city budget appears to still be ruffling feathers in the restaurant community.
Thursday, the owners of Lo Sole Mio, an Italian restaurant at South 32nd and Oak Streets in Omaha, said they'd been notified they would be part of a restaurant tax audit — a move they said would create more hardship for their business.
Marie Losole, who runs the restaurant with her husband, Don, said she voted for Mayor Jean Stothert but was “enraged” to hear the city was asking for more time and paperwork. She said the restaurant has paid all of its taxes, including about $90,000 from the restaurant tax since it was implemented.
“To now have to be audited on something that is supposed to be a surplus to help the city, I was really not happy with that,” she said.
The city performs about 10 audits each week on the restaurant tax.
The tax is on track to be Omaha's fastest-growing revenue source. Officials expect it will bring in more than $27 million in revenue next year.
While Stothert included that money in her proposed budget for next year, she said she wants to get rid of the tax in future budgets.
“I did oppose it, and I still do,” she told reporters Thursday.
Asked if she might try repeal the tax for 2015, Stothert replied, “It may not be 2015.”
“But it is my goal to do that. Again, in my opinion it's not a fair tax.”
She said the audits are part of a city ordinance. Audits related to a new tobacco tax will begin soon.
In the meantime, Losole said she's losing hope that the tax will be repealed anytime soon. She said its unfair to continue targeting a single type of business.
“It's like a slap in the face: We've put the knife in, now we're going to twist it,” she said.
World-Herald staff writer Juan Perez Jr. contributed to this report.
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