Government Red Tape May Keep Nashville Business Owners from Getting Tax Relief During Coronavirus Emergency


Nashville Democratic Mayor John Cooper hinted Monday that city officials will help businesses in the city that have either had to shut down or limit capacity because of the Coronavirus emergency, per city orders.

Will city officials offer tax relief?

Metro officials say a maze of government rules complicate matters.

On Sunday members of the Metropolitan Board of Health of Nashville and Davidson County declared a public health emergency that forced business owners to either close their doors or limit capacity, according to the city’s website.

At a press conference Monday, Cooper said he’s “keenly aware that business owners and employees will face hardships.” Cooper also said “my administration is focused on trying to provide relief for everyone who is impacted by the Coronavirus in all the different ways.”

Cooper did not elaborate.

Cooper spokesman Chris Strong told The Tennessee Star in an email Monday that tax relief “is very restrictive,” but that the mayor and his staff are seeking ways to help affected business owners.

Nashville Metro At-Large Council member Burkley Allen put it this way:

“The authority for property tax comes from the State, and Metro can’t waive that tax for any private entity without going through a complicated maneuver to turn ownership of the property over to the Metropolitan Development and Housing Authority,” Allen said in an email to The Star Monday.

“Sales tax from that area is likewise designated by the Metro Charter to go toward paying back the convention center bond, and ‘tourism related activities.’  We may be able to designate preservation of downtown bars as a tourism related activity and provide some refund through that mechanism.  I believe the city will do everything in our power to support all small businesses that are suffering as a result of the virus.  It is not just a downtown problem.”

We emailed the other 40 Metro Council members for comment, but they did not respond before Monday’s stated deadline.

Robert’s Western World is one of many businesses on lower Broadway that had to close its doors.

Owner Jesse Lee Jones said Monday that tax relief would benefit him and his employees.

“The government is saying you have to close your doors and shut it down. The thought that crosses my mind is the same that is going through the minds of all the employees and musicians. How do you pay your bills?” Jones asked.

“The difference is some of these folks have to pay their rents. They have car payments. They are very concerned with that, and I am too, for them. But, when it comes to me, it just happens to be a lot more than that. I think we are all concerned.”

According to the city’s website, per the public health emergency declaration, bars on Lower Broadway and throughout Davidson County must close until further notice. Restaurants, meanwhile, must limit their regular maximum seating to under 50 percent of capacity, capped at no more than 100 individuals allowed. Restaurant owners must also limit their bar service to 50 percent of capacity with no standing allowed.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Nashville Mayor John Cooper” by the City of Nashville.




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One Thought to “Government Red Tape May Keep Nashville Business Owners from Getting Tax Relief During Coronavirus Emergency”

  1. 83ragtop50

    The government is killing us with its “cures”.