Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D) and Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D) gathered community members and press at Hill’s Kitchen, a small retailer near Eastern Market. They were there to “brag” about the “The Small Retailer Property Tax Credit” (SRPTC) that is part of the FY 2018 budget, which was recently approved unanimously by the council on its first vote.
SRPTC offers a refundable commercial property tax credit to DC businesses of up to $5,000 a year. It will benefit an estimated 4,400 small retail businesses. The credit is available whether a business rents a property on a triple net lease or owns it outright. The only criteria, Mendelson told Hill Rag, is that a business must gross less than $2.5 million. Allen stated that the process will be as “simple and easy as possible.”
The $14.4 billion budget includes a tax increase for infrastructure improvements. That hike is “probably not a good thing for small businesses,” Mendelson said in his speech. This inspired the council to “provide some relief for small businesses,” he said.
Allen and Mendelson’s announcement was made at Hill’s Kitchen, a day before the store’s 10th birthday. Its owner, Leah Daniels, greets nearly every customer entering the store by name. Ten years feels “bigger,” according to Daniels—maybe it’s the double digits. It feels even bigger than eleven years, Daniels said.
In DC, Daniels said, “There are a lot of regulations. There are a lot of rules. There are a lot of taxes.” “It is really a nice sign that the council, both the chair and our local council member, are trying to work to get retail to come and stay,” she continued.
“I don’t know how much $5,000 will do,” Daniels said. “But it’s a good step in the right direction.”
In his remarks, Allen noted that SRPTC specifically targets small local businesses, which face rising property values. “That’s real money that they’re going to have back to their business, back to their employees, back to making sure that they’re strong businesses,” Allen told Hill Rag.
“Community based businesses are more than just stores,” Daniels pointed out. “Community based businesses are your community. We look out for each other, we help each other, and we’re a touchstone in the neighborhood.”