Tennessee eyes 2-week tax holiday for restaurants, groceries

The push for grocery workers to be vaccinated sooner
Posted at 3:25 PM, Apr 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 13:51:35-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Governor Bill Lee's recent budget amendment makes room for two sales tax holidays of two weeks each.

The proposed holidays are just part of the budget announcement that also includes an investment in K-12 education and higher education.

The two holidays are aimed at helping Tennesseans, but one is specifically for bolstering the state's hospitality industry. One sales tax holiday will be for restaurants or businesses that prepare food.

"We know that the hospitality industry was hurt most and also accounted for the highest amount of economic losses," said Tennessee Finance Commissioner Butch Eley during a senate committee meeting, Tuesday.

While many of the details about the holiday aren't clear, the state proposal has $75 million committed to the plan. Those in the restaurant business were happy to hear the news.

"During tax-free weekends we always do see a boost in business. People want to get out. It's kind of an event, they plan on it," said Dave Trett, owner of Red Bicycle.

The coffee and crepe shop in Germantown had to close down due to tornado damage, but also the other locations suffered because fewer people bought coffee during the pandemic.

"It was like coffee was a luxury and that luxury went away with COVID," said Trett.

The businesses survived, though, and the Germantown location is now renovated and reopened.

"If this is geared more towards hospitality I think it will still increase revenue no matter what because people will want to take advantage of it. I also know that people do want to support the small businesses here," he said. Trett also reports business is picking up at the locations and they've been able to rehire all their positions.

Others are skeptical of the tax holiday, though. Acme Feed & Seed owner Tom Morales said he believes the aid is helpful, but not enough to make a real impact.

"Six months to a year you could have an impact, I believe," he said. "We, in the hospitality industry are having to raise our prices and this could mitigate that in terms of what we have to charge the customer because of COVID. So, I think a longer-term approach could be more impactful."

Editor's Note: The Associated Press contributed to this article.