BOSTON (STATE HOUSE) – The Massachusetts Senate on Tuesday turned back an amendment that would have made farmers’ markets exempt from paying property taxes.
The Sen. Richard Ross amendment, which was rejected 10-28, would have designated farmers’ markets as a public purpose, freeing them from paying taxes on any property they own.
“Currently, Massachusetts law imposes a tax on the use of state or municipal land that is used for a for-profit purpose. What this would do is actually designate local farmers’ markets as being tax exempt,” Ross said. “And so I’m just trying to encourage the promotion of farmers’ markets and to eliminate the need for that tax to be paid by people who are actually working the farmers’ market who might have a for-profit company.”
Minority Leader Sen. Bruce Tarr said the amendment would lift the state’s agriculture industry.
“There seems to be a loophole in a negative sense for those who conduct farmers’ markets because they are subject to personal property taxes and the land is subject to real estate taxation for farmers’ markets,” he said.
Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka asked her colleagues to vote against the amendment, saying that because most farmers’ markets do not own land, “I don’t think this is a problem statewide.”
Sens. Anne Gobi, Eric Lesser, Michael Moore and James Timilty – all Democrats – joined the Senate’s six Republicans in voting for the amendment.
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources lists at least 250 farmers’ markets across the state, and the Federation of Massachusetts Farmers Markets says it has helped communities open 100 farmers’ markets in the last five years.
The Senate earlier this month attached an amendment banning plastic bags from farmers’ markets to an omnibus agriculture bill that passed nearly unanimously.
Copyright 2016 State House News Service