Interim Studies on Ag Sales Tax Exemption Applications Highlight Problems- But Offer Few SolutionsTue, 14 Sep 2021 05:49:34 CDT
The State Legislature offered a double dip of information and discussion to the farm and ranch community on Monday on the topic of the Ag Sales Tax Exemption- as two Interim Study sessions were held back to back. The first was requested by State Senator Roland Pederson of Burlington- and that was followed by a second session by State Senator Casey Murdock of Felt.
After watching and hearing the testimony and question and answers that were offered in both interim study sessions- Steve Thompson, Senior Director for Public Policy at Oklahoma Farm Bureau, told Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays that it was a mixed bag of results- saying "there were pros and cons today- and that is reflective of this situation. I think it was very much a good thing that we were able to reenforce the problems that we have encountered with the Tax Commission- some of the changes that they implemented on their own early in the spring- we were able to focus on what they were and why we had to take things into our own hands and pass Senate Bill 422...and it also gave us a chance to highlight the problems we have encountered in getting that law implemented and how the system is still not working as it should."
Back in the spring of this year- a large coalition of ag groups came out in support of SB422, which passed easily in both the House and the Senate- and was signed into law by Governor Stitt. SB422 was supposed to give flexibility to farmers and ranchers who are applying for or renewing an agricultural sales tax exemption permit by providing several options to show proof of eligibility. In addition to applying for a permit through a county assessor, the bill allows applicants to qualify for the exemption by providing documentation from one of four categories including a federal tax form, a business description form, a USDA FSA program form or an Oklahoma Tax Commission-created form to verify they are involved in production agriculture. Since the law went into effect July first- the ag community believes little progress has been made in helping farmers have an easier way to verify their qualifications to obtain for the first time or to renew the Ag Sales Tax Exemption Card.
A good bit of the time in both sessions was spent by lawmakers and some of the witnesses talking about why the exemption is an absolute must for farmers and ranchers, who operate their busiensses on a razor thin level margin- and that exemption often provides the difference between profit and loss.
Thompson says that Farm Bureau and the other Ag Groups will continue their conversation with lawmakers and the Oklahoma Tax Commission to find the middle ground that will ensure that those who have a Ag Sales Tax Exemption Card deserve it- but that the process of qualifying for it is not so difficult that some farmers and ranchers may simply throw up their hands and have to suffer the financial consequences of paying a tax they don't owe.
Listen to Hays and Thompson review both Interim Study sessions by clicking on the LISTEN BAR below.
You can go back and watch both Interim Study sessions by clicking or tapping here.
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