Equipment Dealers Fighting Tax Policy Changes

cindy zimmerman

The 2018 Oklahoma state legislature has seen several bills this session that seek to increase revenue by making tax policy changes that would impact the agriculture industry at an already difficult time, and the Western Equipment Dealers Association (WEDA) says they expect more such challenges in the future.

WEDA Vice President of Government Affairs Eric Wareham explains that the Oklahoma legislature faced a $400-600 million projected budget gap at the beginning of this year. “Once again legislators have taken to turning over every rock to raise revenue, and the teacher walkout has upped the ante on finding funding sources,” said Wareham.

In Oklahoma, there have been three major bills this legislative session that would impact both farmers and farm equipment dealers. Wareham says one bill would have sunset all tax credits and exemptions by 2021, including the farm equipment sales tax exemption. Another bill would have eliminated the ag sales tax exemption for purchases under $25,000, and the third would repeal the state capital gains exemption. The bills have all been either changed, killed or stalled, thanks to the efforts of WEDA and others.

Wareham says other states, such as Kansas and Oregon, have attempted to take similar actions as commodity prices have dropped in the past few years. “Over the past 4-5 years, net farm income has reduced by 50 percent and therefore (states) are not receiving the money from farmers because they’re just not making it.” But Wareham says trying to “tax your way out of a hole by increasing taxes on the hardest hit segment of the economy” to quote Winston Churchill “that’s like standing in a bucket and trying to pull yourself up by the handles.”

In this interview, Wareham provides an update on the Oklahoma legislation, and comments on the potential for more challenges in the future and how such actions would impact an already depressed farm economy. Interview with WEDA Vice President of Government Affairs Eric Wareham

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