Government shutdown forces closure of The Independent in Uptown
[[UPDATE: The Independent has decided to temporarily close.]]
A shutdown could mean some restaurants run out of alcohol.
Last night, KSTP ran a piece on the dozens of bars and restaurants that aren't allowed to buy alcohol because they're delinquent on sales tax payments, and, if the government shuts down, won't be able to rectify the situation until the government restarts. The general tone of the story, from interviews with restaurant owners, employees, and patrons, placed blame for the restaurant's woes on deadlocked legislators. Leah McLean lamented that "One popular Uptown bar may even have to close its doors if a budget deal isn't reached."
Our lawmakers can be criticized for a lot of things, but the bar regular's comment--"I hope it's not on their conscience that a lot of people are losing a lot of money"--is a little misguided. Never did the KSTP story suggest that the restaurants take responsibility for getting themselves on the list in the first place, or mention that they could have gotten off the list by simply paying their outstanding tax bill by June 28. (Obviously the restaurant business isn't easy, but how is this situation so different, than, say, not paying your electric bill?)
The Hot Dish followed up with Robyn Dwyer, director of the collection division of the Minnesota Department of Revenue, to get a more thorough explanation of the situation and find out which restaurants' taps may soon run dry.
Dwyer says the state also collects wage withholdings and such from restaurants, but that most businesses find themselves on the Liquor Posting list due to unpaid sales taxes. Tax delinquents have seen their liquor supplies cut off since 1986, legislation was enacted to give the state a little leverage in collection.
Dwyer explains that, in the case of monthly filers, all sales tax collected from customers in the previous month is due on the 20th of the following month. If the business doesn't pay, they're notified that they will be on the next posting of the list on the 15th of each month, which is distributed to all of Minnesota's liquor wholesalers and distributors letting them know they are not allowed to bring product to those bars and restaurants.
So who's on the current list?