STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION ACTION SIMPLIFIES PRICES FOR MOBILE FOOD TRUCK ITEMS

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November 27, 2013 (San Diego) – The California State Board of Equalization (BOE) acted to make pricing of food sold from mobile food trucks more business and customer-friendly. The Board Members’ unanimous vote at their November 19, 2013 meeting will change a regulation to presume that sales tax is included in the listed price of the food.

“For years I’ve worked with food truck owners in my district to help them navigate California’s complex sales tax laws,” said Michelle Steel, Vice Chair of the Board. “I proposed this regulation to Board staff as a way to make life easier for these small-business owners. I am grateful that my colleagues unanimously supported this taxpayer-friendly change.”

Right now, food truck operators must post signs stating that tax is included in the listed price. Many do not, and are then required to pay the tax rate that applies to their listed prices. This can result in confusion on the amount owed, as operators may sell food from several locations with different tax rates in any given day.

This new regulation will allow food truck operators to charge the same price no matter where they are, and later calculate how much tax they owe for the locations where the sales are made. The BOE has created a convenient, online mapping tool where truck operators can enter the address where they are parked to know the tax rate they should report to BOE for sales made in that area. Paying the correct tax rate is important, as the sales tax supports many vital services such as public education, law enforcement and highways.

Given the proliferation of mobile food trucks, the hope is to simplify and streamline business practices for vendors, and make it clear to their customers that the price they are paying includes tax. The BOE will reach out to mobile food businesses and consumers in multiple languages to inform them of this change.

Following this vote by the Board, the regulation will continue through the rulemaking process. It is expected to become effective July 1, 2014.