Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Street Fair narc alerts Uncle Sam


Last updated 5/22/2015 at 3:23pm

All is quiet on the street fair front in Borrego Springs. Brad Tidwell, president of the Kiwanis announced that the Kiwanis Street Fair was shut down by the Board of Equalization for violating state tax laws. Formed in the late 1800s and charged with tax administration, the BOE is the only publicly elected tax commission in the United States. In addition, the BOE ordered Tidwell to report all participants at each street fair, their resale permit and sales information. Furthermore, the investigator said Mr. Tidwell and Kiwanis must secure the sheriff's licensing approval like all the other swap meets and flea markets in San Diego County to operate with such frequency. In reality, street fairs are designed to be annual or semi-annual community driven events by definition and the regularity of twice a month pushes the celebration in to the commerce category. "If it walks like a duck, it's a duck," BOE investigator explained to Mr. Tidwell.

Of course, in a metro area these laws seem valid in taxation terms, but for a small community with little resources does this law make sense? Jim Kovacs, a longtime Borrego resident and admitted junk collector takes a hit from the shut down, claiming it put food on his table. "It's a 10-year-old girl setting up her lemonade stand and the government shutting her down – that's what it is. I sell my junk. I don't have a business," Kovacs claims. Kovacs has a substantial inventory he proudly refers to as junk but has value to the working community. Although the BOE informed Tidwell of a citizen complaint that spurred further investigation, the State of California has increased its number of BOE agents that canvas areas and comb the internet on sites like for regular taxable activity.

California's Attorney General told the Sun, "The State of California isn't going to lose money," when asked about a grandfathering law for the community event that has supported the livelihood of some of its members for decades. Linda Haddock from the city's chamber plans Borrego's new two-million dollar park in the midst of the impromptu death of the street fair, frustrated at the BOE's actions and suffers the same types of scrutiny over the shrinking farmers market. Haddock states, "Good luck to any other service organization or enterprising individual who wants to do something like this for a small rural and unincorporated community in the county of San Diego and the state of California. The bureaucratic insanity continues ....."

At the end of the day, with proper tax and licensing there are no limits, just make sure you pay your eight percent.

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