PORTLAND, Ore. — Hundreds of bars and restaurants already struggling to survive are now facing another financial setback. The Oregon Lottery is collecting taxes on each video lottery machine, even though the machines are shut down.
“I was absolutely floored. I could not believe it,” said Gloria Huguley, owner of Newport Steak and Seafood.
Huguley said she owes $2,082 in taxes for the six video lottery machines in her restaurant, which remains closed due to stay-at-home restrictions. The family-run restaurant, with 18 employees, is struggling to survive.
“If I were to shut down it would be very, very emotional and very hard because I love my employees,” said Huguley.
The tax bill is especially frustrating for Huguley because the machines aren’t working. The lottery shut them down on March 17.
“We have no authority to waive it,” said Matt Shelby, spokesperson for the Oregon Lottery. Shelby said the lottery collects the annual amusement device tax on behalf of the Oregon Department of Revenue.
Unlike personal income taxes, which have been pushed back, state revenue wants its tax money from video lottery machines right now. Roughly 550 bars and restaurants have been asked to pay.
“Taxes were incurred before the terminals were turned off and the retailers were compensated for the earnings, which triggered the additional tax,” Rich Hoover, spokesperson for the Department of Revenue wrote in an email to KGW.
Hoover said the state agency is willing to work with retailers to come up with a payment plan.