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DC Council Moves Bill Forward on Food Truck Regulation

by Borderstan.com — March 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm 0

From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.

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Fojol Brothers food truck. (Borderstan file photo)

In the ongoing saga of DC’s efforts to regulate its plethora of new food trucks, DCist reports that the City Council has begun marking up legislation requiring these mobile vendors to charge sales tax. (See Borderstan’s previous coverage on the issue, links at bottom of story.)

The bill, which was introduced by Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) last year, would make food trucks charge 10 percent sales tax, the same rate paid by regular, non-moving restaurants. This is a victory for brick-and-mortar restaurants, who have become increasingly frustrated by what they see as an unfair playing field. Currently, mobile vendors pay a flat annual tax.

“This is not a fair system, and the evolution of the mobile vendor market requires a modernization of our tax laws,” Evans stated in a release.

Washington Blade columnist Mark Lee wrote a piece on February 28 in support of the proposal: “Fairness for all businesses should begin with food trucks paying the same sales tax rate as the rest of their hospitality and food service colleagues. The D.C. Council should act to establish a level playing field by approving this legislation.”

Food truck vendors have largely voiced opposition to this new provision, a departure from their earlier support for DC’s proposed regulations on mobile food vendors. One food truck advocate (and vendor) pointed out that paying equal taxes should go with equal treatment. Food truck operators have complained of police harassment, among other obstacles traditional restaurants don’t have to face.

The bill appeals to many in the District because of the revenue it would generate. If passed, the bill would take effect this October.

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