Brian Bowman vowed to make life easier for small business owners if elected mayor.
Standing inside the popular Exchange District restaurant Shawarma Khan, Bowman said he’d increase the small business tax credit to $30,000, from the current $23,800, and ensure annual reductions in the business tax rate to offset corresponding increases in annual rental rates – effectively freezing the amount of business tax paid by individual operators.
Bowman said the measures would save small business operators about $1,700 annually but only cost the city $1.7 million in total.
"The city’s current business tax is an especially onerous burden on our small businesses," Bowman said during the morning news conference, adding that business owners already pay property tax and see no return for the business tax.
Currently, businesses whose annual rents are $23,800 or less are exempt from paying business tax. Under Bowman’s scheme, he would raise the limit to $30,000.
Restaurant owner Obby Khan, the former Blue Bomber who owns Shawarma Khan, said that would be a significant improvement on his bottom line, which would amount to about $5,000 over four years.
"For a small business starting off, the potential to save over four years $5,000 is huge," Khan said, adding he supports Bowman and hopes to see him elected mayor.
Bowman said he’d prefer to eliminate the business tax entirely – it’s expected to raise $60 million in 2014 – but said that’s not realistic. However, Bowman said that by lowering the tax rate to corresponding increases in rental rates, that will ensure businesses will not pay more in business tax next year than they do now.
"The business tax is counter-growth," Bowman said. "I’ll eliminate the tax burden on as many small businesses as possible and for those larger businesses that continue have to pay, at least freeze the actual amount that’s collected by the city."
Bowman took a swipe at Judy Wasylycia-Leis’ plan to freeze the business tax rate, saying businesses will continue to pay more business tax under her scheme as their rental rates increase.
Bowman also promised to hold an annual small business summit, allowing business owners a forum to suggest how they’d like to see the business tax revenue spent.
The small business tax was a target for another mayoral candidate, funeral home operator Mike Vogiatzakis, who also promised to cap the total amount of business tax collected at the 2013 level and allocate $3 million every year to help grow new business.