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The Dark Side of Lemonade Stands

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By: burgundy bug

Fresh Lemonade decor

Source: Fresh Lemonade | Penelope Peru Photography

There’s more that lies under the tablecloth of a lemonade stand run by shining faces high noon on a summer’s day. Without the proper permits from their county, our ambitious youngin’s could be looking at hundreds of dollars in fines.

Wait, Lemonade Stands Are Illegal?!

Yes. It’s technically illegal to operate a lemonade stand in 34 states, according to Country Time’s Legalade, an organization fighting to legalize lemonade stands operated by children across America.

What About the Other 16 States?

Well, in states like N.Y., Tenn, Ill, Texas, and Calif, overriding legislation has been passed or is being voted on to exempt lemonade stands run by minors from having to obtain permits.

In N.Y., for example, Senate Bill 00762 was introduced in January to exempt lemonade stands operated by children under the age of 16 years old from being deemed “temporary food establishments” and subject to the Department of Health’s permit requirements. As of April, it’s being voted on in the Senate Finance Committee.

Why Are Lemonade Stands Illegal, Anyways!?

Very quickly, a seemingly simple and innocent lemonade stand can become a hairy mess of fines and penalties.

The laws may vary depending on the state or county you live in, but you’ll generally need a business license, a permit to handle food, and will have to follow various health and sanitation requirements, as seen in a guide on How to Start a Lemonade Stand’s website.

Legally, you are obligated to file a tax return if your child earns more than $1,050 in gross income as of 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) states on their website.

It’s also important to familiarize yourself with the child labor laws in your area to make sure your little one’s humble lemonade stand isn’t in violation of those, either.

Who Actually Enforces These Lemonade Stand Laws?

Local law enforcement and health department officials have cracked down on multiple lemonade stands operated by minors across the country.

Just last summer, seven year old Brendan Mulvaney’s lemonade stand was shut down by health department officials in Albany, N.Y. causing a public outcry, the New York Post reported. It has since then reopened and continues to operate, as seen in a recent New York Times article.

How Can We Fight to Protect Our Lemonade Stands?

Contact your local legislators; your county officials, state representatives, senators, and members of congress. Let them know this issue is close to your heart so they can vote on bills to override our current lemonade stands laws.

There are also organizations, such as Country Time’s Legalade, that are working to change legislation.

Legalade is also offering to cover up to $300 in lemonade stand fines targeted at children under the age of 14 years old until Sep 2 – or until they’ve paid $30,000 worth of fines, according to their website.

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burgundy bug


A cynical optimist and mad scientist undercover, burgundy bug is the editor, graphic designer, webmaster, social media manager, and primary photographer for The Burgundy Zine. Entangled in a web of curiosity, burgundy bug’s work embodies a wide variety of topics including: neuroscience, psychology, ecology, biology, cannabis, reviews, fashion, entertainment, and politics. You can learn more about working with burgundy bug by visiting her portfolio website: burgundybug.com

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