I’m Not a Big Fan of Tax Easements, But If You’re Going to Use Them…

…this is the right way to do it (boldface mine):

A decades-old District institution on Georgia Avenue NW looks like it’s slated for a 10-year tax abatement, after the black-owned bookstore lobbied for relief from the city.

The D.C. Council was unanimous on Tuesday in its approval of a tax break for Sankofa Video Books & Cafe (aside from At-large Councilmember Anita Bonds and Ward 4’s Brandon Todd, both of whom are on a trip to Israel with the D.C. Chamber of Commerce)…

While the city has long used tax breaks and other incentives to entice corporations and developers, it has less frequently directed those tools towards retaining small businesses.

“I hope that the Sankofa example is a spark for protections to be put in place for small black businesses,” says Sankofa co-owner Shirikiana Gerima. “Legacy businesses who’ve been here through crack, through, in some cases, the riots, through gentrification—the latest devastation, they need to be supported in really, really concrete ways.”

…In exchange for the tax break, the legislation requires that more than half of Sankofa’s employees live in D.C., with more than 30 percent of them living in Ward 1. Gerima says this measure won’t be a problem.

Of course, other businesses are going to push for these sorts of breaks. Then again, the business rent is too damn high.

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