MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Think businesses getting tax breaks would voluntarily pay Memphis more money to help the city's budget crunch? What about a non-profit group or a church? Memphis City Council members say it could happen.
Every year Memphis loses tens of millions of dollars because businesses were given tax breaks, known as pilots. The Peabody Hotel, FedEx and AutoZone are just some of Memphis business given big tax breaks.
As Councilwoman Janis Fullilove noted, "Last year we gave away 41 million in tax breaks abatements and just think, if we had the 41 million we wouldn't be in the situation we are."
Fullilove wants businesses that get breaks to pay more money, voluntarily giving the city an extra 3 to 5 percent to help out with the budget crunch.
"Many of these corporations have been given tax breaks for years and they use the same city services the citizens use and it's only fair."
Truth is the businesses do pay some money, but get a big discount.
"We don't want to just jump on FedEx or Cargill, but we want them to be good stewards," added Fullilove.
The same request would go out to non-profits and other tax exempt properties like churches and schools.
Truth is Memphis has more than 16,000 pieces of property that aren’t taxed. Together it's valued at $4.3 billion. By rough estimate, the city loses at least $43 million a year in tax dollars on those properties.
"The public is worried about this," said Councilman Lee Harris. "This is not my dollars, it's theirs."
If you add the $40 million loss due to business tax breaks and an estimated $40 million loss from non-profits, that's $80 million. So it's no surprise council members are considering asking for extra money.
Critics say this isn't going to fly. Legally those groups don't have to give the city an extra dime, and truth is most probably won't.