Walker’s bill would disqualify farmers’ sales tax exemption

Senior Editor

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (March 3, 2015) — A former professional football player who is a Maryland General Assembly delegate has introduced a bill which, if enacted, could put the state’s agricultural industry “on the brink of disaster.”
That’s the assessment of the Maryland Farm Bureau which called on farmers to swell the attendance at a hearing slated for Tuesday, March 3 in Annapolis before the House Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee on Houe Bill 928.
The measure, if enacted would impose the state’s 6-percent sales tax on every transaction related to the operation of the farm.
The bill was introduced by Prince George’s County Democrat Jay Walker who, according to a notation in his web page biography, is a former National Football League quarterback for the New England Patriots (1994) and the Minnesota Vikings, (1996-97). His NFL stints sandwiched a season with the Barcelona Dragons in the now-defunct NFL Europe in 1995.
HB 928, entitled “Sales & Use Tax-Agricultural Products and Equipment-Repeal of Exemption,” would repeal the tax exemption that exists in current law for the purchase of inputs for farm operations.
According to Maryland Farm Bureau, Walker’s bill would  impose the sales tax on the purchase of livestock, feed or bedding for livestock, seed, fertilizer, fungicide,s herbicides, orinsecticides, fuel for farm equipment and tractors,containers to transport products to market,milking equipment, and all other farm equipment used to raise livestock, prepare, irrigate or tend the soil, or plant, service, harvest, store, clean, dry or transport seeds or crops.
The bill also applies the sales tax to services performed on the farm such as fabrication, processing, or sawmill services for wood that remains on the farm.
Accordng to the Maryland Farm Bureau, in a statement: “The current exemption is in place because farmers, like other businesses that build or manufacture a product for consumer consumption, have always been exempt from taxation during the input and production process.
“Just like we would not expect an automobile manufacturer to pay sales tax on every piece of metal, fastener or fabric used to produce a car or on the assembly line parts to move those products, we should not expect farmers to pay retail sales tax for the items they purchase to grow food, fiber, and fuel.”
The hearing on HB 928 is scheduled for March 3 at 1 p.m., in the House Ways and Means Committee.
Farmers are expected to rally there in protest of the bill.