Thursday, February 9, 2012

Agriculture Land and Taxes

I just got an email from a friend on Oahu about a proposal to take horse facilities out of the list of those eligible for agriculture breaks.  If this passes, this will put a lot of equestrian facilities out of business - land values for acres and acres on that island are insane without the agriculture discount.

A few months back, I saw that there was a measure about taking "hobby farms" off the list of those who get agriculture tax breaks, too.  The designation, "hobby farm", includes people who farm for their own consumption, as well as farmers who don't make a minimum amount of money on sales.  If that passed, it would have put a lot of legitimate, but small, farmers out of business.  A farmer that sold one alpaca might make it, but a farmer who consistently went to farmer's markets and made a few hundred every week might not. 

A similar story was a raid on the Kailua Farmer's market (on Oahu) where tax collectors descended on the farmer's market and fined people for not charging GE tax and for not keeping customer by customer records of sales - these farmers could tell you how much bulk they sold, but didn't have receipts.  If you've been to a farmer's market, you can see the problem - who gets a receipt? 

I know our state is hurting for revenue, but with our food security being so precarious as it is, these sorts of things seem counter-productive.  Why can't GE taxes be based on total sales and the records of pounds harvested and pounds sold be enough?  Even though the horse stables are only a side issue in food security (they do provide a lot of manure for farmers), what seems to be a concerted attack on agriculture activities is alarming to me. 

It just troubles me - and it is on my mind, because it's tax time.  When you have to do the FAFSA, taxes are no longer a matter of driving by the Post Office at midnight to catch the special long hours....you have to get them done early! 

1 comment:

tami said...

I hate how the push for revenue to "feed the beast" ends up hurting the small guy the most.