Hanna proposes tax change for small farmers

Jul 17, 2012

Central New York Congressman Richard Hanna is hoping to help small farmers create more jobs.  He wants to tweak a portion of the tax code that was initially meant to help small farmers.

The  proposed "Growing Small Farms Act" ultimately will lower taxes for small farmers by increasing the exemption level that applies to farmers for federal unemployment taxes they pay for their workers.  Hanna says that puts more money in the pockets of farmers so they can expand business and ultimately create jobs.

"In New York State, about 80 percent of our economy is somehow connected to farming so it's a big deal.  It's important," said Hanna.

The congressman says increasing the tax exemption would affect many of the farmers in his district. He's optimistic about the legislation's chances.

"Everything's a hard sell down there [in Washington].  But not necessarily for me.  Peter Welch out of Vermont is doing this with me.  Good guy.  Democrat.  We get along well," said Hanna.

The congressman said the current exemption level, set 30 years ago, is outdated. The exemption applies to farm workers making less than 20-thousand dollars a quarter.  His legislation would double that level.

"This simply acknowledges the fact that payrolls have gone up, expenses have gone up, and it doubles that amount and ties it to inflation," said Hanna. "Basically everything else is the same."

The New York Farm Bureau says decreasing the tax burden will allow farms to invest more money in the family business which comes at a time when consumers want more homegrown food.

"I have to believe that more farmers than not fall under this threshold in Upstate New York, so this should virtually benefit every farmer in the district somehow, and everyone they do business with," said Hanna.  "And the more money to spend on what it is they're doing the better off we all are rather than sending it to the federal government."