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September 30, 2010

Omahans fight restaurant tax

by Deena Winter

Should be interesting to watch what happens with a lawsuit fighting Omaha’s new 2.5 percent restaurant occupation tax.

Lincoln is one of two Nebraska cities that have approved such a tax, (Grand Island is the other) but Lincolnites didn’t put up the kind of fight some Omaha restaurant owners are waging. They contend it is a sales tax masquerading as an occupation tax.

Omaha opponents were unable to get a judge to block the tax from taking effect Friday. But the lawsuit will continue.

Lincoln’s 2 percent occupation tax on bars and restaurants goes into effect in January. It will help pay for a $340 million arena project west of the Haymarket. Lincoln restaurant and bar owners expressed some concern about the taxes, but never put up much of a public fuss about it. Although this is an example of how the media’s handling of an issue can make a difference: the World-Herald has been pretty aggressive about covering business owners’ response to these tax proposals.

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