DC Food Trucks Association Says “Sales Tax Act Jeopardizes Food Trucks”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr. T in DC

From a DC Food Trucks Association press release:

Under current regulations, a proposal for mobile vendors to collect sales tax opens the door for double taxing food trucks and could even make individual employees responsible for the business’s taxes.

“If the Sales Tax Act passed today it would create a scenario on par with requiring each server in a restaurant to collect and submit sales tax for the entire business,” said Che Ruddell-Tabisola, Executive Director of the Washington, DC Food Trucks Association.

“The Sales Tax Act shines a spotlight on how badly we need Mayor Vincent Gray’s proposed new food truck regulations, which update decades-old vending rules and make it possible for food trucks to collect sales tax,” Ruddell-Tabisola said.

Under current food truck regulations, a vending license holder, typically the owner, must be present on the truck for it to operate. For the food truck to operate without the owner, he or she must obtain additional vending licenses for employees. As a result, a single food truck has multiple licenses holders, each of which pays fees as if it were the business owner.

The Sales Tax Act would make each license holder responsible for the business’ sales tax and could possibly require each employee to pay the business’ full amount of tax collected, resulting in a food truck paying double, triple or even more the amount of tax actually collected and threatening the ability of the food truck to remain in business. Moreover, it would unfairly subject individual employees to personal liability for the business’s tax obligations.

Mayor Gray’s proposed new food truck rules would update regulations to require just one vending license per food truck and make it possible for food trucks to collect tax as intended by the Sales Tax Act.

“We don’t believe the Sales Tax Act’s intent is to threaten the viability of food trucks, but obviously it cannot be passed with the current food truck regulations still in place,” Ruddell-Tabisola said. “It only makes sense for the tax act to be adopted in tandem with passage of the Mayor’s proposed new food truck rules.

“The Sales Tax Act is a step in having food trucks treated like real businesses,” Ruddell-Tabisola added. “Our members welcome the recognition that we are real businesses and look forward to serving as a means to provide additional revenue to the District. It’s what we’ve always said – food trucks are good for the District.”

3 Comment

  • Ironically, that DC food truck with the DC flag on the front has VA tags.

  • Competition is bad when the playing field isn’t level. Food trucks have enjoyed a tilted field and have been fighting changes to vendors laws tooth and nail for the past year. So if one is fine with competition, why have street vendors been screaming bloody murder for the past year?

    Frankly, I suggested to Evans and the Council that street vendors (not just food trucks, all of them) should be paying a BID tax as well. I don’t own a brick and mortar but I would be livid if I had to pay thousands a year to a BID to beautify the neighborhood, pay for street trash pickup and landscaping only to have food trucks roll in every day and leave their trash all over the streets and the trash cans full that the brick and mortars are paying to clean up.

    Food trucks have had a good run, 70% of them are not even DC owned businesses. VA, MD, NY businesses drive into town every day. They make a mint, trash the streets, then take their profits home with them at night to (VA, MD, NY) to be taxed there. The District has gotten absolutely nothing out of the deal. So please tell me as a tax paying District resident why I should give 2 beans about the so called “plight” of the street vendor who whines about his unfair advantage being taken away? But hey, if I was Pepes sandwich truck, selling $20 untaxed sandwiches out of my truck, I would cry like a child too about starting to remit a sales tax.

    And talk about petulant whining…street vendors readily admit they already remit sales tax for business they do in VA and MD, so the whining about having to do it in DC just makes me roll my eyes.

  • Joker, you are plan wrong. As a part owner of a 100% DC food truck (kitchen here, vehicle here, all employees live in the district) I actually have some knowledge here.

    I will say it again, we are not against the sales tax. We are 100% on board if you let us operate as a business. Let us license our truck as a business, don’t make us pay $1500 every year to license each employee (3 guys that run the truck a various times – well that’s $4500 a year and each employee is personally responsible for collecting tax as well!) Absurd.

    To equate it to a restaurant, tell me how many restaurants would be viable if every single server and bartender had to pay a $1500 fee to sell and was personally responsible to collect and submit sales tax individually. Again, absurd.

    As far as local trucks vs MD, VA and NY trucks. You are the consumer. Support the trucks that are local or go lobby Congress to overturn that pesky interstate commerce clause.

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