The Iowa Restaurant Association has asked Iowa lawmakers to provide financial relief in the form of tax and fee forgiveness for Iowa’s restaurants and other small businesses.

Iowa’s restaurant industry, with more than 6,000 establishments, lost more than $310 million in April due to COVID-19-related state-mandated closures. 

The association is asking the Legislature, which is in session this week, to consider providing graduated levels of assistance to businesses. It is asking that the assistance be included in a budget package being considered by lawmakers. 

Specifically, the association is asking lawmakers to consider:
• Forgiving or deferring sales and payroll tax payments.
• Extending or forgiving licensing fees.
• Ensuring that private businesses that were forced to close not be penalized and made to pay unemployment.

The association is recommending the state use a graduated economic stress test to determine what, if any, forgiveness or deferment of taxes and fees might be offered to affected businesses.

Jessica Dunker, the association’s president and CEO, said in a news release that up to 1,000 establishments are expected to close in the coming months.

“They just won’t be able to hold on,” she said in a prepared statement. “We were among the first mandated closed and will be among the last to be allowed to operate at full strength. No one built a profit model based on a 50% operating capacity — so we’re going to continue to struggle.”