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Richmond City Council candidate proposes a tax exemption for small business owners

Raising taxes on certain sectors or large corporations could offset a tax break for small business owners
John Roston believes a better idea to raise taxes on particular sectors or large corporations to offset a tax break for small business owners that are struggling.

City council candidate John Roston agrees with at least one of his rival candidates that support is needed for small, local businesses impacted by the pandemic, however he doesn’t agree on how that support should be given.

The Richmond News previously reported that Jonathan Ho, Richmond Community Coalition (RCC) candidate, proposes to boost the local economy by promising a $100 stimulus voucher to all Richmond households. 

After reading the story, Roston said he believes a better idea is to raise taxes on particular sectors or large corporations to offset a tax break for small business owners that are struggling. 

“Help is desperately needed if we are to preserve the small businesses that are an essential component of the environment in Steveston and elsewhere in Richmond,” Roston wrote in one of his blogs. 

“First of all, what’s the biggest expense for small businesses, the answer is rents are very high, especially those in Steveston. A big component of rent is property tax,” said Roston. 

Rents are usually made up of two parts - the basic rent (also known as the fixed amount per month) and the operating expenses of the building, such as heating and lighting. The landlord also needs to pay property tax to the city, explained Roston, noting that business taxes are significantly more than residential taxes.

“The business tax is almost two and a half times more than residential taxes. For every 1,000 dollars evaluation of the house, you need to pay $1.85 in municipal tax. If it’s a business, you need to pay $4.75,” said Roston. 

To make it more equitable, large businesses which are thriving or even reaping huge profits due to COVID-19 could pay more business taxes, which would enable the city to set a lower property tax rate for small business owners, noted Roston. 

“The city doesn’t have to lower taxes for all small businesses, they could look at all small businesses and apply the tax reduction on certain streets, such as in Steveston.”

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