Ohio lawmakers considering tax breaks for maple syrup producers


Byt Todd DeFeo - The Center Square



COLUMBUS — Lawmakers are considering several tax exemptions, including a break for the owners of land used in the commercial production of maple syrup.

House Bill 109 would grant a property tax exemption to the owners of property used for commercial maple sap extraction as part of a five-year pilot program. If approved, the break might be the first such exemption in the country, state Rep. John Patterson, D-Jefferson, said during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing.

“Maple offers a steady stream of income if it finds its way to the market,” Patterson told his fellow lawmakers.

“HB 109 would offer an incentive of zero property taxes to those who make at least 30 taps per acre on a minimum of 15 trees,” Patterson added. “… Second, contingent upon this tax break, landowners would practice enhanced forestry practices by participating in Ohio’s forest management plan.”

The state would replenish any “lost” revenue to local jurisdictions, using up to $3 million from the general revenue fund.

“This is an experiment, to be sure,” said Patterson, who co-sponsored similar legislation in 2018. “It’s way out of the traditional box, but one worth pursuing.”

Critics of such tax exemptions say it amounts to government picking winners and losers in the private sector and shifts the burden of lost revenue to other taxpayers.

House Bill 440 would provide sales and use tax exemptions for janitorial equipment, supplies and services used in cleaning and maintaining manufacturing equipment. It also repeals the sales tax on manufacturing staffing services.

“A sales tax is intended to be a tax on the ultimate consumption of (a) good; it is not intended to apply to business inputs,” state Rep. Sara Carruthers, R-Hamilton, said.

“Applying sales and use tax to transactions essential to the manufacture of a good – or the investment in manufacturing machinery and equipment – increases the costs of the goods that are produced, negatively impacts economic decisions and places Ohio at a disadvantage compared to other states when it comes to the economic development,” Carruthers added. “Taxing manufacturing inputs is poor tax policy and anti-competitive for Ohio.”

Another proposal, House Bill 419, would exempt watercraft seasonally stored or maintained in Ohio but purchased outside the state from state and local use taxes. The legislation has several caveats: the vessel must be used in Ohio for fewer than 60 days, not used or stored in Ohio between May and September, and the owner must have paid sales or use tax in another state.

In a separate tax-related matter, on Tuesday, the state House unanimously approved an updated version of House Bill 18, which would exempt military disability severance pay from the personal income tax. According to a Legislative Service Commission (LSC) review, the bill should have little to no effect on revenues.

The state House and Senate both passed the measure unanimously last year. With Tuesday’s vote, the House accepted a minor change that state senators made, and the bill now heads to the governor for his signature.

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Byt Todd DeFeo

The Center Square

Todd DeFeo is a contributor to The Center Square.

Todd DeFeo is a contributor to The Center Square.