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Logging tax exemption considered

The Buckingham County Board of Supervisors is considering a request made by a Virginia Loggers Association (VLA) representative to exempt forestry harvesting equipment from machinery/tools and personal property taxes, but such an exemption could cost the county a pretty penny.

During a Monday, April 12, public hearing for the county’s proposed FY 21-22 budget, VLA Executive Director Ron Jenkins approached the board to discuss the possibility of exempting logging businesses from certain taxes.

Jenkins, who has approached the public bodies of several other counties in recent weeks, explained to the supervisors that a new state law now authorizes localities to amend their tax ordinances to provide tax relief previously granted to farmers for their farm machinery to now include forestry equipment.

He added the entire 33,000 members of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation were in agreement that farming and forest harvesting are very similar and asked the  supervisors to consider exempting forest harvesting equipment. Jenkins emphasized the importance of the logging industry and the difficulties surrounding the job, including physical dangers and the dangers of the ever-changing market prices.

Jenkins emphasized he only wants the board to consider an exemption for forest harvesting equipment such as skidders, cutters, chippers and loaders. Titled trucks would not be included in the exemption.

At the following board meeting Monday, April 19, as supervisors voted on the budget, they also moved to place Jenkins on the county’s finance committee for a one-time discussion related to the matter in order to obtain more information on the subject.

According to County Finance Director Karl Carter, Buckingham County does currently provide a tax exemption for farming equipment.

Carter added exempting the types of equipment Jenkins mentioned during his comments would mean an estimated loss of approximately $87,000 to the county.

During the April 12 meeting, supervisors noted loggers do already receive a discount in that the county taxes the equipment listed above at the lower machinery/tools rate of $2.90 per $100 of assessed value rather than the personal property rate of $4.05.

“I’m going to tell you something,” District 6 Supervisor Joe Chambers said. “They need a break. I was in the logging business at one time, and the loggers, you see, it’s a hard road to travel. Everything is against them … Anything we can do to help them, I’m all in favor for it because they need it.”

In Charlotte County, supervisors turned down the forestry equipment tax exemptions proposed by Jenkins last week after learning the move could cost the county approximately $411,000 in revenue.