Magnolia’s owner to Gov. Cuomo: Give a 1 month break on sales tax

Berkeley Brean
Updated: March 17, 2020 06:48 PM
Created: March 17, 2020 06:30 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — It’s tough on everybody right now.

A famous local restaurant on Park Avenue laid off half of its staff Monday. Tuesday, the owner shared his idea that he says might keep his business and others running.


The idea is let small businesses, like Magnolia’s Deli keep their state sales tax for one month.

That’s thousands of dollars.

That is money desperately needed.

“If it’s a one time or two time forgiveness it would just keep us all afloat,” Tony Palermo said inside his restaurant this morning.

Palermo opened Magnolia’s at the corner of Park Avenue and Oxford Street 17 years ago. President Barack Obama came here in 2013.

Right now, because of the coronavirus, the restaurant is only takeout and delivery.

So Palermo has an idea for the Governor: Let him and every other small business owner keep their sales tax for one month.

“It’ll give us a small influx of cash that, instead of giving it to them, to pay rent, to pay insurances, to keep people employed even on the small scale we’re doing and it would take a burden off us to know that we don’t have to dish out the thousands to them,” Palermo said.

We got this idea in front of the governor today.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: “I’d love to say to everybody in the state, I know you’re having a tough time, nobody pay any tax. I would love to do that. I’ve cut taxes, I’ve cut taxes every year. But we’re not in a fiscal position to do that.”

Gov. Cuomo deferred to his budget director who said the state is probably going to need its own bailout.

Robert Mujica, NYS Budget Director: “The federal government will have to step in to deal with this because we will have our own liquidity issues. If we don’t get some relief.”

So how can the state afford to give up that revenue? It can’t.

But when you meet people like Tony Palermo, how can it not?

He had to lay off almost half of his staff this week.

“We have a nice clean place. We’ve been wiping everything down. And we’re hoping that we’ll sell enough sandwiches and pizzas to pay the bills,” Palermo said. 

Palermo pays his sales tax monthly. His February bill is due Friday.  He’s looking for a break for March and maybe April. 

Today the CEO of the NYS Restaurant Association released this statement: 

“The state’s entire restaurant industry is in dire straits. From the North Fork of Long Island to North Tonawanda, restaurants are closed and, undoubtedly, many will never reopen. During this uncertain time, these businesses still have obligations that must be met – such as payments to suppliers, rent and taxes – with little to no revenue coming in. We urge the State to push back the due date for sales tax payments to alleviate the financial burden on these businesses. Without this, hundreds of thousands of restaurant jobs will be in further jeopardy.”

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