Carpinteria’s Hot Dog Man, Bill Connell knows more about tax laws than most people selling a $3.00 item from a small cart on an out-of-the-way street corner.
As a Vietnam-era veteran who was honorably discharged from the Army, he has been a featured businessman in the small town for years. He has also paid taxes -in protest.
Connell says a misinterpretation of the law that exempts veterans from certain taxes, led to a controversy and years of head butting between his pleas and demands from the state that he pay or get shut down.
Turns out, he was right.
Governor Jerry Brown has just signed AB 919 to clarify the legal language and help veterans who paid the taxes reluctantly, get a reimbursement. It was led through the state legislature by Santa Barbara Assemblyman Das Williams and his staff.
Connell says the fund will be about $50,000. for all veterans to dip into, although it’s unknown how many vets will be seeking a refund for previously paid taxes.
This only applies to those who chose to hawk, vend, or peddle small single items. In Connell’s case, it is a $3.00 hot dog.
The intent of the rarely used law, was to keep veterans off the welfare roles if they were able to make money even though they were discharged early from the service or are injured. It keeps them off welfare when they can still work for themselves, which many veterans want to do.
Connell personally drove his aging vehicles back and forth to Sacramento for years to speak with legislators, their assistants, members of the State Board of Equalization and lawyers to make his case. He has spoken at hearings several times, to continue to explain the conflict, and the financial hardship the delay in action has caused him and other veterans.
The All American Surf Dog cart Connell operates daily on the eastern end of the small town off Bailard Ave., has American flags on all sides along with a POW veteran’s flag.