Farmer wants tax repealed

Published 8:48 am Wednesday, April 6, 2011

David Edwards stands in front of a tractor his father purchased used in 1980. Edwards continues to pay an annual tax on the piece of equipment. -- Hattie Francis | Tidewater News


COURTLAND—Sedley farmer David Edwards is taxed $4,700 annually for the machinery on his farm.

He recently asked Southampton County Board of Supervisors for a little help by repealing what’s known as the machinery and tools tax.

“I just don’t feel like it’s a fair tax,” Edwards said. “I think our taxes should be fair throughout the whole county. I mean, I’m paying personal property tax. I’m paying taxes on my car, my trucks, my home and the land. And on top of that, I’m having machinery tax.”

According to the Southampton County Commissioner of Revenue Amy Carr, the tax raised $399,468 in 2010 and $368,958 in 2009.

County Administrator Mike Johnson said the tax accounts for less than 1 percent of the county’s total revenue.

“I believe if you have a title to something, tax it,” Edwards said. “Tractors don’t have titles, and that takes care of all the trucks, motorcycles and cars. But I just think that farm machinery shouldn’t be taxed.”

Surrounding localities, with the exception of Suffolk, have a similar tax, however, Southampton’s is the highest at $2.40 per $100 of the original cost with an assessment ratio applied.

Isle of Wight County’s tax is 95 cents per $100, and Surry County’s is $1 per $100 of the assessed value of the machinery.

“The government has shown that federal, state and local … they can’t save a dollar,” Edwards said. “Every dollar they get they spend. I just feel that we need to be more aware of what we spend and where the money goes.”

“It’s easy for the government to spend money because all they do is raise rates and taxes, and get the money back,” he added. “I just feel like enough is enough.”

Gary Cross, president of Farm Bureau for Southampton County, said he’s more upset with how the county spends the money than what he gives them.

“Should it be as much as it is? Maybe not because I do have a lot of money in equipment,” Cross said. “I make a lot of payments, and it’s a sizable figure.”

“There are several sides to look at this thing and the fact that right now agriculture is about the biggest industry they’ve got and they’re taxing it,” he added. “But of course the commodity prices are high right now, and I could probably make out better this year than any year in the past if I can make a crop.”