Bold Colors Blog

Stickin’ it to the libs, one day at a time

Washington State legislature and out of control taxation: will the family farms survive?

Posted by Liberty on February 8, 2009

Ag legislator sends out alert about proposed B&O tax

“A bill that would require Washington state farmers to pay the business-and-occupation tax if their gross income is more than $200,000 was sent to the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Friday, Feb. 6.”

You read that right–gross income.  I don’t know how many of my readers know much about agriculture but I know a little.  You would certainly not get the full picture by looking only at a farm’s gross income.  Farmers face a lot of variables–the cost of inputs like seed, fuel and fertilizer; labor costs; the cost to upgrade and replace machinery.  [For those of you not familiar with how expensive that can be, here’s a little comparison.  For the cost of a new John Deere combine, which a good sized wheat farm may use for a month out of the year, you could buy a decent house.  And you could use it all year long.] 

For a lot of farms, gross income probably looks pretty good.  And then the farmer gets to pay the bills.  There’s no guarantee that those bills won’t be as much or more than the gross income.  And that’s without the state of Washington with their hand out for B&O tax. 

“The bill completely or partially repeals seven deductions or exemptions, according to a recent tax alert sent out by Rep. Mark Schoesler, R- Ritzville, ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Committee and also a member of the Ways & Means Committee.

”This is such a step backwards from what we’ve been trying to do,’ Schoessler said in an interview Friday, Feb. 6, with the Capital Press. ‘We knew people would be looking for money under every rock but we didn’t expect this shot across the bow so soon.’

Schoessler refers to the tax as the ‘most mean regressive tax’ that can be put on agriculture.

Pointing to the $200,000 threshold, Schoesler said that it wouldn’t even take a circle of potatoes in the Columbia Basin to hit that threshold.

‘And yet there’s no guarantee about profits,’ Schoesler said. Farmers also face high levels of expenses to plant, care for and harvest their crops.

Schoesler, an Eastern Washington farmer and rancher, aid that a gross income of $200,000 is right about where many farming operations become commercial and full-time.

‘This tax could spell trouble for farms that have been struggling and discourage smaller farms from expanding,’ he said.

Schoesler said is that a farmer grossing more than $200,000 could, because of expenses, earn barely enough to avoid qualifying for food stamps, free school lunches, or subsidized children’s health care. Yet that same farmer would have to pay the business-and-occupation tax if the bill becomes law.

The bill number is SB 5911.  The toll free phone number for the Washington State Legislature is 1-800-562-6000.  If you’re so inclined, give your legislator a call and let them know that spending is the problem.  Not revenue.  And give the farmers a break.  Whether or not those liberal Democrats from big city districts in Western Washington understand this or not, agriculture is a vital part of our economy.  Farmers have plenty of economic factors working against them.  Our state government needs to help facilitate the growth of all kinds of businesses, not kill them through punitive taxes.

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