Legalized at last – those who want to make food in their home kitchens and sell it. That’s what the new Cottage Food Act did for Californians this year, but now some interested in home food sales face the possibility of being taxed like a business.
Inyo Assessor Tom Lanshaw said, “My job is to discover all business personal property that is taxable.” That news raised the question of the Southern Inyo Hospital parcel tax – at least $500 per year plus Inyo County Business Property Tax. Suddenly, the prospect of home food sales did not look so good to some.
Mark Stambler, cottage food activist said of the possible taxation, “I think that goes against the interest of the Cottage Food Act. It was envisioned as a way to lower the barriers to the food industry.” Stambler said the idea was to “keep all permit fees and assessments at the lowest possible level so anyone could use the act to enhance their economic standing.”
In hard times, legislators reasoned that the Food Act would give a lot of people a way to supplement their income. Stambler said, “We never thought this would cost more than $100 to get involved.” Stambler, who is a well-known home-bread baker in Los Angeles, said the whole idea was for people to get started on a small scale and then once successful, start a commercial business.
Inyo County Assessor Lanshaw said he has until January 1 of 2014 to figure out what to do about taxes. He said he has not heard anything about ignoring the Cottage Food enterprises. Said Lanshaw, “If you’re in business, you’re in business.” Declaring the Home Food people official businesses will also put them on the tax roll, and that’s why Southern Inyo people might face the hospital tax. Lanshaw said his office does assess other home businesses like cosmetic sales.
Lanshaw did say it’s up to Southern Inyo Hospital what they do about taxing the Cottage Food Industry. Some citizens, interested in home food sales, went to the Hospital Board and asked not to be taxed. Citizens say there were 100 people at Cottage Food Act workshops and many who want to get going but taxes may prohibit them.