Richmond businesses caught overcharging meals tax

Posted at 7:27 PM, Jul 17, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-17 20:40:57-04

RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) -- After investigating Henrico's meal's tax issues, CBS 6 turned to Richmond businesses to see if their experience gave them an advantage.

Purchases made in Henrico, which recently employed the tax on June 1, revealed that merchants were not aware which items were appropriate to tax.

Since 2003, the city of Richmond has added a meal tax of six percent, which is tacked on top of the 5.3 percent state sales tax.

Under Richmond City Code, factory sealed beverages are exempt from the meal tax when sold alone. CBS 6 reporter Joe St. George went purchased bottled beverages from 10 establishments.

The following places incorrectly applied a meals tax:

  • McDonalds, on Broad St. near Boulevard.
  • Subway, at Boulevard and Broad St.
  • Burger King, on Broad St. near Staples Mill Rd.
  • The Alamo BBQ in Church Hill
  • Wendy's in downtown Richmond.
  • Dunkin Donuts on Nansemond Street, near Carytown.

"The city isn't super clear on what gets food taxed," said James Gibian, manager at The Alamo.

"I don't want to be incorrectly charging customers," Gibian added.

Gibian promised to fix the issue as soon as possible.

When asked why the city is still having meal tax issues decades after it was first introduced, spokesman Mike Wallace described it as "not overly surprising" and he placed blame on registers and new employees.

Wallace did say "any taxpayer that feels they are entitled to a refund should contact the finance department with a receipt."

Wallace said that the city is constantly trying to educate companies to properly tax.