State gets tougher on farm, fair taxes

A chaotic scene broke out last month at the Kailua Open Market when tax agents clamped down on so-called “cash economy” businesses, leading to cancellation of the 36th annual Mayor’s Craft and Country Fair Saturday and prompting state tax officials to meet with vendors this afternoon at Makiki Park.

The crackdown by the state Tax Department’s year-old Special Enforcement Unit comes as dozens of vendors and small businesses across the islands have begun holding holiday craft fairs in homes, parking lots and large halls. The tighter enforcement requires sellers to show proof of general excise tax licenses, keep records of sales and provide sales receipts to tax agents to comply with Hawaii law.

The city Parks Department Monday announced that the fair at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall had been called off.

Randy Yasuhara, a recreation specialist for the department, said the decision was made because the state is more strictly enforcing laws on vendor sales, and that vendors without general excise tax licenses could be liable for fines.

Tax officials have been invited by city parks officials to speak to market vendors at a meeting today at Makiki Park, said state Tax Director Stanley Shiraki.

Sakhone and Griffin Twigg, owners of West Valley Farms in Waianae, were issued a $670 citation at the Kailua Open Market on Oct. 28, allegedly for failing to produce records of transactions for their produce sales that day.