Tonawanda News

Opinion

September 4, 2013

CONFER: Ease the tax growth on farmers

Tonawanda News — It has been written here before that property taxes are the most unfair of all the taxes. School, county, and town levies penalize people for accumulating wealth (their house and land) and for improving upon it (home improvements) while rewarding people who do neither (by having them pay less for access to the same local services).

That inequity is especially pronounced when it comes to agriculture. Farms throughout Upstate represent, by far, the largest taxpayers in rural communities; after all, farming is the most land-intensive business there is. Farming families use no more public services — like roads, fire protection and schools — than non-farming families, yet they end up paying tax bills that are multiples of what their neighbors pay.

The burden placed upon farmers is mammoth, even with help that they get in the form of special agricultural assessments, farm building exemptions, and school tax credits. When it comes to the final tax bill, New York farmers pay an average of $38.41 per farm acre.

That inequality on the home front creates major inequality in the marketplace. Know that just like manufacturers, farmers operate in a global economy — this isn’t roadside stand versus roadside stand. They are trying to get their produce, meat and milk into canneries, processors and stores throughout the world, as are farmers everywhere from Washington to Brazil. That’s why you see such a diversity of sources when looking at labels while grocery shopping.

Farmers have to first battle what Mother Nature throws at them and, then, when they are done, they have to battle for market share. Like with any product, it’s all based on what one can sell at a price the market can bear. Every penny is critical.

That’s why New York farmers take a beating.

The national average for taxes per farm acre is only $12.34. So, growers and dairymen in the Empire State are paying more than 3 times what their competition is paying in other states for their most important asset — land.

Text Only
Opinion
  • tucker, barb.jpg Make your house number visible

    August 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADAMCZYK: The greatest luxury: peace, quiet It is not difficult, for anyone with the intent, to know more about you than you think they should. Every step of yours involving interactive technology can be molded into a picture of how you spend your time, money and thought.

    August 1, 2014

  • duvall, eric.jpg DUVALL: On lines blurred, crossed and nonexistent It strikes me more and more how blurry the lines have gotten in all facets of our world, large and small.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tucker, Barbara.jpg TUCKER: Oh, the joys of Sound Off Never thought the words "Thank goodness for Sound Off" would ever be printed here.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • adamczyk, ed.jpg ADAMCZYK: And now for something completely different... Last weekend I attended a local movie theater (a plushy, posh experience; they design these places now to get you out of your living room and away from your home electronics) to watch the sun set on the British Empire.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • OUR VIEW: Arson suspect never deserved bail Two of the 11 fires reported on Fifth Avenue could have been prevented with some jurisprudence in evaluating whether the suspect, Michelle Johnston, deserved to be offered bail. Given the obvious nature of a repeat offender who was charged with nine felony arson counts, bail never should have been offered in this case.

    July 25, 2014

  • wallace, amy.jpg WALLACE: Too much information? Is there such a thing as TMI or too much information anymore? Some might say yes.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • duvall, eric.jpg DUVALL: On reading and the lack thereof It was surprising to me a few weeks ago when a friend asked a group of us to estimate how many books we have each read over the last five years. The English teacher said 200 and he far and away led the pack. I was probably the median and my number was 20-25.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • confer, bob.jpg CONFER: A Con-Con would be a con game

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • duvall, eric.jpg DUVALL: Conflict in Ukraine now a concern of global proportions It seems increasingly clear Ukrainian separatists, with the help from the Russian military, are responsible for the tragedy. They, of course, have denied it. They've also denied access to the crash site to international investigators seeking to recover the dead and determine what happened. That's not something the innocent party does.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo