Restaurant Tax Increase Proposed by CT Lawmakers

The latest budget proposal from Connecticut House Democrats increases the sales tax and gives cities and towns the option to raise the rate even more at restaurants.

Right now, the state’s sales tax rate is 6.35 percent and the proposal is to increase that to 6.85 percent.

To give municipalities more revenue options, cities and towns could bump up the tax on restaurant bills to 7.85 percent.

New Haven is known for its diverse and abundant dining options.

"I actually took my wife here like two weeks ago just to show her the area and kind of peruse the restaurant scene," Robert Bartholomew of Manchester said.

At the Temple Grill patio, the possibility of an increase to the restaurant sales tax by 1.5 percent does not sit well with customers.

"We have enough in taxes," Vicki Hennessey of North Haven said. "I think we pay way too much in taxes, something needs to be done."

"I’ve already been thinking about trying to make my lunch every day and bring it to work so this might actually be the kick I need to get that going," Bartholomew said.

For lunch on Thursday, Petulia Blake tried Midpoint Istanbul for the second time. The Turkish restaurant on Crown Street recently opened.

"I’m more concerned really for small business owners primarily with new ownership such as this one," Blake, a Quinnipiac University professor of management, said. “I think it would be quite costly.”

House Democrats said a small sales tax increase would reduce the impact of Governor Malloy’s proposed cuts to education funding. He has recommended the elimination of state aid in 85 school systems and significant reductions in another 54 districts.

"They have a shortfall," Patrick Mansfield said. "Trying to come up with revenue."

Mansfield is the owner of Anna Liffey’s Irish Pub. He said he worries that a higher tax rate at restaurants could make it more difficult for small businesses to make ends meet.

"It’s a tax on the consumer under the guise of being a restaurant tax," he said.

State lawmakers should create more incentive for consumers to support their local restaurant, even more, Mansfield said.

"What they should really do is if they really wanted to increase revenue," he said. "They should reduce taxes and take off 1.5 percent."

The state is now 55 days into the fiscal year without a budget.

"These tax hikes will slam the middle class and further erode our quality of life in Connecticut," House Republican leader Themis Klarides said.

Governor Malloy has also said he is against raising the sales tax.

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