(03/14/2021)
The West Virginia Farm Bureau is the latest group hatching serious concerns about Gov. Jim Justice’s big tax proposal.

“Running a farm or ranch is challenging under the best of circumstances, because agricultural businesses operate in a world of unpredictable markets, weather disasters, fluctuating input costs — and, under Justice’s plan, a significant tax increase,” Charles Wilfong, president of the West Virginia Farm Bureau wrote in a Charleston Gazette-Mail op-ed today.

Justice should be familiar with those concerns. His family business has significant agriculture holdings, farming 50,000 acres in four states. During his 2016 campaign for governor, Justice regularly called agriculture a “sleeping giant” and touted identifying a “niche crop” for West Virginia. The governor is a seven-time national corn growing champion.

Here the governor finds himself at odds with the West Virginia Farm Bureau, an influential organization representing 17,000 farming families.

The governor’s plan would cut a billion dollars in personal income taxes while raising a variety of other taxes, particularly sales tax.

The income tax cut would not apply to many businesses that are essentially organized as sole proprietors under the tax code. So, many have concluded their businesses would be affected by the sales tax increase but would not receive the benefit of the income tax reduction.

The governor has said the business categories that are currently exempted from the income tax cut would benefit once the state moves to eliminate the income tax entirely. But there are not details so far on how or when that would be done.

“Unfortunately, his plan also would impose costs on family farmers,” Wilfong wrote. “Unlike many businesses, farms operate as commodity-based businesses, so they can’t pass extra tax costs on to consumers of their products.”


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