Bars are not operating, why Texas Comptroller still requires tax payments

Businesses struggling to make ends meet still have to make tax payment

Bars are out of business, but still have to pay monthly state liquor sales tax
Bars are out of business, but still have to pay monthly state liquor sales tax

San Antonio – Bexar County businesses struggling to make rent, pay bills also have to keep up with paying their taxes during the pandemic closure.

The monthly state liquor sales tax is due the 20th of every month. Bar owners we spoke with say they were lucky to be able to make the payment, but it does take a big chunk out of their accounts in a time when money isn’t coming in.

Joe Martinez, owner of R&J Saloon & Music Pavilion, says he knows taxes have to be paid, but “we know it’s kind of hard for mom-and-pop businesses to keep daily operations when you get other bills as well as your taxes,” he said.

He’s been spending days and hours on the phone trying to get loan information or help information without much success. “It’s kind of discouraging, what do we do?”

Justin Vitek, owner of three bars and restaurants, says they were able to make their payment but they’re looking for a way out after this pandemic. He, like Martinez, has a lot of beer and liquor that could go to waste if business doesn’t return soon.

“We’re having to sit there on thousands of dollars of inventory. And you can’t just give that back to Speck’s or whoever you ordered through, so that’s extremely tough for us,” he said.

Anna Tauzin with the Texas Restaurant Association says businesses are drowning and now they’re going to have to pay taxes to the same government that forced their closure.

“Eventually, restaurants spread such thin margins they're not going to have so much in the coffers that they can give up to the government to pay their taxes,” Tauzin said.

The association has been pushing for more leniency for business owners.

The Texas Comptroller’s Communications Director Chris Bryan says businesses who are struggling can ask for a payment plan, but they have to make a good faith upfront payment to get that option.

“We understand that businesses are struggling and that's why we are providing the type of flexibility that we are trying to provide,”Bryan said. “But ultimately, your viewers in San Antonio paid sales taxes and they expected those sales taxes to be available to meet their needs and the needs of their local communities.”

Each month, the comptroller’s officer collects about $3 billion in sales taxes statewide. About $750 million return to local governments for their budgets to use on day-to-day operations, Bryan said.

The office expects a drop in that average to show up in May, and they’re counting on those sales taxes to keep coming in to keep government running.

Business owners can get more information from a comptroller hotline by calling 1-800-252-8880. The franchise tax deadline has also been moved to July.

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