Friday, June 4, 2021



WNCN, 5-18-21

Wake County has two "tourism taxes." These consist of an occupancy tax and a prepared food/beverage tax. You can read more via Wake County's website. This post focuses on the prepared food/beverage portion. 

Wake County and Raleigh tout these as tourism taxes. The hotel tax may have some merit. It's worth noting that many poor people utilize hotels as short term residences and pay this tax also. It makes their lodging expenses during a time of struggle even more difficult. 

Wake Citizens Coalition has previously requested the breakdown between non-tourist/Wake County residents spending on prepared food/beverage taxes and non-resident/tourist spending. That data does not exist. Restaurants don't keep patron records of this sort. In normal circumstances you could only guess - and probably not do that well. 

What you might need is a circumstance that literally halted or severally limited tourism traffic in Wake County. We had one in 2020 - COVID. 

As noted from the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau in the WNCN article, food and beverage tax revenue decreased 23% from 2019 levels compared to 2020 levels. That might provide some insight. Of that 23% it's fair to think that much of that is Wake County residents not eating prepared meals at restaurants. How much of that 23% is from tourists? Good question. But the fact that tourism grinded to a halt in 2020 tells us much. It tells us that tourists do not pay this tax. Wake County residents do. 

Wake County should eliminate the prepared meals tax. A healthy discussion on the hotel tax should occur also.