Hundreds of DC Residents and Businesses Voice Opposition to Beverage Tax as DC Council Debates Unfair Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the D.C. Council Committee on Human Services prepares to hold a hearing today on a proposed beverage tax, hundreds of residents called for the Council to reject the tax because of the harm it will cause local small businesses, their employees and hard-working families.  More than 200 DC business owners signed a letter to the Council in opposition to the tax, and 396 small businesses, restaurants, employees and residents submitted written testimony to the DC Council asking for a rejection of this large new tax.

This outpouring of widespread opposition shows just how concerned people living and working in the District are about the tax Councilmember Nadeau is proposing.  Many residents and small-business owners are taking time out of their workday to testify against the bill, which Nadeau brought before a committee that does not have jurisdiction over tax issues.

The Alliance for an Affordable DC is a coalition of more than 400 small-business owners, neighborhood organizations and community leaders who are united in their belief that a large beverage tax like the one proposed here will hurt working families, small businesses and their employees the hardest.  After 14 months of business closures brought on by the pandemic, their message is clear: The last thing local businesses need are more burdens that will prevent them from getting back on their feet.  Pushing this legislation forward now, and holding a hearing on it before a committee with no jurisdiction, adds insult to injury.

“As a small-business owner here in the District, I am appalled at the proposed beverage tax being considered,” said Joe Park Chau, owner of Menick’s Market. “It’s already expensive to run a business in DC, especially as we continue to recover from the pandemic.  A new tax could determine whether or not our business survives.  Our neighbors rely on us to bring groceries to the neighborhood and this tax threatens these residents’ access to the groceries they need.”

Business owners like Joe are members of the Alliance for an Affordable DC, which has been an invaluable resource for businesses looking to get vital support from local and federal programs during the pandemic.  The Alliance helped D.C. businesses stay in touch with customers and stay informed about the changing restrictions put in place during the last year.

“After a year of economic turmoil, I am just beginning to get my footing,” said Azeb Mesfin, owner of Royal Rooster Carry Out. “I am finally working to bring back my employees full-time and open for regular business. Implementing this tax could mean even more employee lay-offs or worse, closing my doors for good. Businesses and residents don’t need another tax. We need support.”

Dozens of Alliance members signed up to testify live today at the public hearing.  They want to voice their concerns about the impact this legislation would have on DC communities, many of which have been devastated economically by the lockdowns of the past year.  Among those planning to speak to the harm this tax will cause include organizations representing union employees, restaurants, bars and nightclubs, minority business owners and convenience stores.”

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The Alliance for an Affordable DC includes residents, businesses and community organizations actively opposing new taxes on working families. We are committed to protecting neighborhood businesses and jobs, with support provided by the American Beverage Association. Visit https://www.afforddc.com/ for more information.

WHY IT MATTERS

This beverage tax will not change anyone's behavior, but it will make things tougher for residents in a city trying to recover.

Peaches WatsonPeaches KitchenManor Park

It is critically important that we stand together and fight taxes that harm our livelihoods.

Jess RockwellThe EleanorNOMA

The beverage tax would create an enormous burden on businesses like mine, who are already fighting to stay open.

Rosario GuzmanNim Ali Shukos & Antojitos Shaw

I'm most worried about my customers. I can't afford to absorb this tax, which means I'll be forced to pass it along to them.

Tyrone CeleyCompact MarketTrinidad