Richmond businesses caught overcharging meals tax

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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.



  • Ron Melancon

    Great work for this excellent reporter to reveal this massive fraud to the Richmond taxpayer and even with this theft they still can’t balance budget

  • Ron Melancon

    Nobody wanted to do this story. The RTD didn’t cover it. NBC 12?didnt want to touch it but this reporter did along with the news management of this station allowed this reporter to “break” this story. He will reveal even more just keep watching

  • James Keller

    Your facts are wrong, and you are making the restaurants look bad because of it. No factory sealed beverages are subject to the tax, alone or as a part of the meal.

    CBS 6 has been contacting local businesses and attempting to bait them into controversy that they create. You people are the worst, and hopefully get sued into the ground for your careless journalism.

    • Aaron

      that is EXACTLY what they are saying. Factory sealed beverages are not subject to the taxes but they purchased them and they were charged the tax.

      • James Keller

        They aren’t saying either way. What they are saying, is incorrect. “Under Richmond City Code, factory sealed beverages are exempt from the meal tax when sold alone. ” That is not accurate. Bottled beverages are tax exempt sold alone or together with food. Food in general, is exempt when sold in bulk which wasn’t mentioned. The laws are VERY clear and easy to understand. But CBS wants to make restaurants look like the criminals rather than accurately reporting the facts.

    • mbaker9105

      Technically correct. 10 years is a decade, then another decade starts, thereby making it plural. They could have said “for more than a decade” or “over a decade”, or many other descriptive terms, but this is “Journalism” and “decades” sounds sooo much worse.

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