Cities Cracking Down on ... Garage Sales

Officials say recurring sales not fair to real businesses
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2011 1:19 PM CST
Cities Cracking Down on ... Garage Sales
Do you have a license for that?   (Shutterstock)

Across the nation, lawmakers are cracking down on the most insidious of threats: the garage sale. Though there is no official figure, some experts say garage sales are increasing significantly, and officials are bristling as some sites hold sales on a weekly basis—each time with different merchandise, and not just the usual old junk from your attic. "Anything they sell that doesn't come out of their house is a taxable item, and we've had to shut a few down," a Kansas state revenue agent tells the Wall Street Journal. Adds a Texas city manager, "It's not a garage sale if residents are running businesses out of their homes, selling new merchandise."

Because of those potentially avoided taxes and other concerns, some cities are fighting back. In Liberal, Kansas, an ordinance was passed this week that limits sales to four per year, and requires garage sellers to get a license. Anti-yard-sale officials are concerned about more than just taxes: Some question if repeat sellers are peddling stolen goods; others argue that recurring sales disrupt neighborhoods. Sometimes, sales are even set up in the yards of unoccupied homes, and the streets become parking lots. Says one Dallas resident who found herself stuck in such a situation, "We had to call 911 so that we could get out of our own driveway." (More garage sale stories.)

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