Ohio Farm Bureau delegates say commercial tax has to go

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COLUMBUS – Ohio Farm Bureau delegates weren’t happy with the state board’s support of the commercial activity tax, or CAT, and voiced that displeasure during the farm group’s annual meeting Dec. 1-2 in Columbus.
The commercial activity tax is part of the overall state tax reform package signed into law this summer. It is a new tax that is targets a business’ gross receipts and there is no agricultural exemption, although businesses with annual gross receipts of $150,000 or less are not subject to the tax.
The delegates approved policy that opposes the gross receipts tax and charges the farm group to work to rescind the tax before the next state biennium budget
Double whammy. “My concern is that we get hit twice,” said Holmes County Farm Bureau delegate Tim Brumme of Killbuck.
Individual farmers will pay it, he explained, and then will pay higher prices at the equipment dealership or other supplier who passes the tax along.
“We have no ability to pass that on,” he added. “We can’t pass on our higher fuel tax; we can’t pass anything on.”
Package deal. The commercial activity tax was part of a larger tax reform package that Ohio Farm Bureau supported earlier this year, said Keith Stimpert, Ohio Farm Bureau vice president of government affairs.
The package phased out corporation franchise taxes and tangible personal property taxes, which are expected to bring overall tax relief to most Ohio farmers.
Stimpert said the board crunched the numbers on each tax’s benefits and importance before making its decision.
The staff also worked “to minimize the impact on agriculture,” Stimpert said, pushing to raise the CAT threshold from $40,000 to $150,000, for example.
Code talkers. On the first morning of the Farm Bureau annual meeting, the hot topic wasn’t world trade pacts or commodity prices. The issues that had the 324 voting delegates tied up for nearly an hour and a half involved women state trustees, the farm group’s organization directors, and how to vote at and when to hold the annual meeting.
Not all the delegates were happy with recommendations from a code policy committee, so the individual code changes were brought up to the floor for debate.
‘Women’s trustees.’ One of the biggies that failed was whether or not to change the four women-only state trustee positions to “regional at-large” trustee spots that could be held by either sex.
Jason Feldner, Noble County Farm Bureau president who served on the state code committee, made the recommendation.
“As a young farmer, I see a different Farm Bureau,” Feldner said. “Gender is not needed to qualify.”
Although the proposal received a majority of the votes (182 to 132), it fell short of the two-thirds votes needed (216 of the 324 registered delegates) to change the code.
Who hires ODs? Several of the code change proposals concerned the field staff, or organization directors, who work directly with the county Farm Bureaus.
Members debated proposals to grant counties to hire their own organization director, and to limit the counties assigned to organization directors, among other variations. All failed to achieve the two-thirds majority.
(Farm and Dairy Editor Susan Crowell can be reached at 1-800-837-3419 or at editorial@farmanddairy.com.)

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