I met Tuesday in Santa Ana with about 12 owners of catering trucks — mobile eateries that sell mostly Mexican food — and they told a disturbing tale of how the state’s Orwellian-named tax agency, the Board of Equalization, is targeting and mistreating them. The business owners assembled in the room blamed their tough times more on state tax authorities than on the economy.
The truck owners say the state is handing them tax bills for tens of thousands of dollars, based on unrealistic estimates of their taxable sales. When you buy food at the trucks, a burrito and Mexican-bottled Coca-Cola (the kind with real sugar, rather than the icky corn syrup) may cost, say, six bucks. That’s all you pay, as opposed to a restaurant, where state tax would be added onto the transaction. The trucks don’t collect a per-item tax, but owners later estimate their sales and send their money to the tax man.