Outdated laws in Washington will soon change to allow new and improved street vendors and mobile vendors to operate under an improved tax system. The long-standing regulations for these types of businesses were written for old-fashioned ice cream trucks, making life unnecessarily complicated for today’s mobile vendors.

Beginning in October 2012, food trucks will be allowed to charge and file the same 10% sales tax as their counterparts that stand in buildings. This is a popular alternative to the current system, in which licensed vendors pay a quarterly tax on their permits instead of charging sales tax.

This alleviates complaints that each food truck carried a tax burden that varied based on the licensed vendors per food truck.

“Basically, we operate under a number of regulations that are almost 40 years old,” Che Ruddell-Tabisola, executive director of the D.C. Food Truck Association, said in an interview. “These rules were meant for ice cream trucks and need to be updated to meet the needs of food trucks.”

He noted that food trucks are prohibited from pulling over under current laws unless they are flagged down to serve food. They are required to pack up and drive as soon as the line is gone.

The second complaint is that every truck must have at least one licensed vendor on board to serve food in order to ensure safety standards. However, if the truck owner is the only one who can serve food with the permit, the truck can’t operate if the owner is out sick.

“It would be like requiring every server at a restaurant to have a $450 license,” Patrick Rathbone, owner of The Big Cheese, said of the rule. “We need the city to make it easier for the food truck industry to get those licenses.”

The D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs proposed a new package of regulations, which are undergoing the final stages of approval.


Washington Post: “DC Food Trucks Lobbying to Change Outdated Ice Cream Truck Rules“.

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