By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
In a welcome departure from Washington State’s penchant to overbearingly tax, regulate, and control every aspect of human existence possible, a state senator recently introduced Senate Bill 6320 titled “AN ACT Relating to the ability of a minor to operate a lemonade business on an occasional basis” as a prophylaxis against the state shutting down another fledgling business and cultural icon: the childhood lemonade stand.
It is, however, a rather sad commentary that such a bill becomes necessary, but given the unholy alliance between the neighborhood busy-bodies who shake their canes at all things enjoyed by children and mindless automatons of local government who put rules above reason, it seems we now have to legislate discretion to protect young entrepreneurs from being thwarted by the ridiculousness sometimes displayed by adults having more power than sense.
Do we have to make laws to protect lemonade stands from government? Unfortunately it seems in today’s society we must.
The initial legislative intent proposed by this bill seem, so far at least, promising. The text reads:
“The legislature finds that the current regulatory environment creates uncertainty and potential barriers to traditional avenues of minor entrepreneurship, specifically operating lemonade stands. Minors who are not seeking to compete with fully established businesses, participate in festival-like events as vendors, or establish full-time employment should not be subjected to the same level of regulation and taxation. The legislature finds that it is in the state’s interest to encourage entrepreneurial activity among the minors of the state. Entrepreneurship among minors has been a means for children to learn basic business and economic and earn and save money. Diversion of state and local resources for the permitting and enforcement of regulations controlling such entrepreneurship is not in the best interest of the people of the State of Washington.”
The bill adds to the existing Revised Code of Washington 70.05.060 [Powers and Duties of the Local Board of Health] the following:
“(2) (a) Except a provided in (b) of this subsection, the local board of health may not promulgate or enforce restrictions on any person fifteen years of age or younger operating an occasional lemonade or other nonalcoholic beverage business.
(b) This subsection does not apply to a business operated at a special event as defined in RCW 82.32.033.
(c) For the purposes of this subsection, “occasional” means infrequent or irregular.”
A new section is proposed under Title 82 RCW
“A new section is added to chapter 82.04 RCW [Business and Occupation Tax] to read as follows:
“This chapter does not apply to any person fifteen years of age or younger with respect to amounts received from occasional sales of lemonade or other nonalcoholic beverages. For purposes of this section, “occasional” means soliciting sales in thirty or fewer days in a calendar year. The exemption in this section does not apply to sales made at a special event as defined in RCW 82.32.033 [Registration Certificates – Special Events]”
Under Chapter 82.08 RCW [Retail Sales Tax]
“The tax levied by RCW 82.08.020 [Tax imposed – Retail Sales] does not apply to sales of lemonade or other nonalcoholic beverages by any person exempt from tax under section 3 of this act.”
Under Chapter 82.12 RCW [Use Tax]
“The provisions of this chapter do not apply with respect to the sales of lemonade or other nonalcoholic beverages by any person exempt from tax under section 3 of this act.”
Presently, children wanting to establish a lemonade stand on their front lawn must obtain a Food Handler’s Permit from the county health department, obtain a business license from their municipality and/or the state, and file a tax registration with the Department of Revenue. While no true police officer or local government official would care if such a stand was established out of compliance by a nine year old, there is likely to be homeowNer’s AZsociatIonS and bureaucrats with a sourpuss approach to lemonade that will force the issue somewhere.
My thoughts are that at least with this one bill, it is a baby step in the larger picture of reducing the infiltration by government against the lives of ordinary people. Why stop with a lemonade stand? How about giving us all some relief from the constraints of red tape, unwelcome intrusion and theft by excessive taxation?
I do hope that through some truly remarkable departure from the last twenty years of increasing regulation that this bill somehow makes it into law. I have doubts, but it is probably more likely to succeed than any other liberty promising bill that died a quick death here lately. If so, there is perhaps a possibility for a fifteen year old kid to create a Lemonade Stand of Bureaucrat Consternation by founding his business in the heart of Seattle–home of its infamous tax on pop. I’d love to see him set up a shipping container full of Pepsi and other evil beverages (according to the city council), slap a Lemonade Stand sign on the side, and sell cola without the $5.04 sin tax per case of 24 cans. If such an endeavor could be legal, not only would this be the moral thing to do, it would be enchanting to see the city council’s Pavlovian response to taxation preempted by the legislature, and a twelve year old school kid.
By Darren Smith
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