To Market, To Market
I hadn’t noticed a proposal to exempt produce sold at farmers’ markets from sales taxes until I read this column in the Columbia Missourian (link via Combest). The bill in question is S.B. 658.
I’m opposed to exemptions from taxes, be they targeted tax credits or sales tax holidays, because they give the affected businesses an advantage over others. The advantage is the most unfair when the exemption is very narrow.
S.B. 658 certainly qualifies as narrow. The sales tax break would go to goods sold at farmers markets, so an apple sold in a grocery store would be subject to the tax, while the same product sold in a farmers’ market would be exempt. And it wouldn’t even apply to all farmers who sell at markets — the market would have to be a nonprofit or a cooperative.
It gets worse. The bill lists all kinds of products that would be affected, naming them in detail (“flowers,” “maple sugar,” “mushrooms,” etc.). If this bill becomes law, I predict we’ll have to revise it again and again as farmers lobby for additions to the list.