Bill Connell operates the ultimate small business, and now, he and his little hot dog stand in Carpinteria have had a taste of the ultimate victory.
For 16 years, Connell sparred with the State Board of Equalization over the interpretation of an 1872 statute exempting from paying various taxes street peddlers who are also disabled veterans. During his long battle with the state — which included at one point having his business shut down for nonpayment of taxes — Connell spent thousands of hours educating himself on the law and advocating for his cause.
The original intent of the 1872 statute, he has said, was to give a boost to self-employed veterans. That’s also exactly what California now hopes to do with its new legislation, which, incidentally, it figures won’t cost it more than $25,000 a year in foregone sales taxes.
Connell’s may be a marginal victory for small business, but it’s one worth celebrating nonetheless because it shows that even a small cry of protest from one lonely vendor in Carpinteria can’t be ignored in Sacramento forever.