Death by 1,000 Government Bills

In a letter in yesterday’s Providence Journal, Cilantro Mexican Grill owner John Palmieri notes the high failure rate of businesses in his Weybosset St. neighborhood and lists some of the “red tape and taxes” over which he has to climb on his way toward success and profitability:

  • Annual $500 State of Rhode Island corporation filing fee.
  • Annual chattel tax on my fixtures, inventory and equipment.
  • Liquor license fee.
  • Permit to make sales at retail fee.
  • Litter permit fee.
  • Victual license fee.
  • Department of Health license fee.
  • Company delivery vehicle tax fee.
  • Department of Public Works expansion-of-premises license fee to place tables on the sidewalk.
  • Department of Labor and Training boiler-inspection fee on my hot-water heater!
  • Monthly burden of collecting and remitting sales tax.
  • 2012 dumpster license fee of $600 (I, of course, pay a private contractor for the actual collection of my waste).
  • Parking-meter fees (and loads of tickets, as will happen when operating a business downtown).

The above costs don’t relate to other taxes I am assessed: Unemployment-insurance taxes, workers compensation insurance costs, just plain old Social Security taxes for my employees and income taxes. Plus, of course, my share as a lessee of the commercial property taxes on the building our restaurant operates in.

As Providence gropes for ways to make its budgetary ends meet and as state legislators and administrators put on a good show (at least) about caring to improve the state’s business climate, commentary like Mr. Palmieri’s might serve as a good beacon, illuminating the proper path for public officials.