New Orleans restaurant owners upset over new alcohol tax

New Orleans restaurant owners upset over new alcohol tax

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Some local restaurant owners are fired up over a new alcohol tax.

Krista May, who owns Cowbell, said she feels blindsided.

"I had no idea that it was happening. Apparently it started a month ago, on the first, and the first we heard about it was two days ago," said May. "Basically, we've been accumulating a new tax that remained undisclosed to us for a month."

She's talking about a tax for business owners in the City of New Orleans who sell alcohol. They'll have to pay the city anywhere from .5 to .40 cents on each gallon of liquor, beer or wine above a certain alcohol content that they purchase from distributors.

"You can't go about something this sort of sneaky and then not expect people to view it as a sneaky thing. It's sneaky," said May."If you're going to tax people or levy an additional tax, I think you probably have a responsibility to let people know outside of people who were fortunate enough to be present in council chambers when it happened."

We reached out to the city about this story. A spokesperson said the tax is now in effect and it was approved back in December as part of the 2017 budget.

"We've called, we get no answer. We've talked to purveyors, we've talked to other restaurants. Everybody seems to be kind of, 'I don't know what to do, what to think, what it is, we don't know how to apply it, we don't know how it's going to be applied,'" said May.

May said despite the higher price of doing business in New Orleans, she won't pass that cost on to her customers.

"It's bad enough to have no control over it as the owner, but to compound that by passing it on to people who just want to come in and have a steak, or, you know, a drink or whatever - to me, I am not going to do that," May said.

Some restaurant owners have filed suit over the new alcohol tax to get it stopped. When we asked the city what that money will be used for, they told us they could not comment further due to pending litigation.

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