State Tax Agents Threaten Cascarones Vendors
(Photo: Old Spanish Days)
Source: Santa Barbara Police Department
Wednesday evening, at approximately 4:30 PM, seven bilingual enforcement agents and a supervisor from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, Compliance and Outreach Program made contact with the Santa Barbara Police Department Watch Commanders Office to announce a compliance operation they executed throughout the day on Wednesday.
The agents were officially in Santa Barbara to conduct compliance checks and enforcement on a vendor list supplied to them by financial representatives from Old Spanish Days. Through most of Wednesday they made contact with many of the non-profit vendors with sanctioned booths authorized by Fiesta.
However, when the agents were unable to find localized parking, on a whim, they drove up State Street and noticed the proliferation of possibly non-permitted confetti egg vendors lining the 300 block though 1000 block of Lower State Street.
The agents say they contacted each of the egg vendors, maybe hundreds, and told them they were in violation of the law, capable of being issuing stiff fines and misdemeanor violations, and ultimate seizure of the elicit product. Those hoping to gain immediate compliance worked with the agents to fill out an online form – others were directed to drive to the Ventura Office to apply for a temporary permit for the rest of the week. They left each violator with literature (attached) and said they would be back Thursday to take enforcement action.
The Santa Barbara Police Department informed the agents that most of the egg vendors were members of our Latino community, predominantly Spanish-speaking, potentially lower socio-economically, possibly marginalized immigrants, AND any heavy-handed enforcement action could alarm and upset a pre-existing, stable and positive relationship with some of the most vulnerable members of the fabric of our community, not to mention any future intelligence gathering partnerships to solve crime.
We relayed that it may sow confusion, in that many might not understand the distinction between a State tax agent and a more daunting interaction with federal authorities. We also informed the agents that at this late juncture, most if not all non-compliant egg vendors did not possess the necessary financial infrastructure to sustain an audit.
The Police Department ultimately drove the agents to the City Administrator’s Office so that the PD, tax agents, and Administrator’s Office could all better understand what was in the best interest of public safety and ongoing festivities.
Our Department worked with the agents to establish that this year NO enforcement action would take place. Instead, the agents would pivot to an education campaign to inform future egg vendors on Thursday and Friday, that next year the Tax and Fee Administration would be conducting an enforcement action during Fiesta. In turn, this will give our municipality ample time to work with the community to ensure full compliance next year.
Today, a well-intentioned post from Black Lives Matters on Facebook suggested (see attached post) that the agents were fake scammers. We thought it important to inform the public of the confusion.
Contact for California Department of Tax and Fee Administration: Paul Cambra, Office of Public Affairs 916-324-2720, paul.cambra@