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County officials want to curb farm tag abuse - Chatham Star Tribune: News

This is a truncated version of what was in the hardcopy of the newspaper, but I think you'll get the gist of what this county supervisor is pushing. From the last paragraph of the hardcopy article-

"Supervisors want state legislators to address the farm-use tag issue. The board's legislative committee voted to send a resolution to local lawmakers."

If they're going after farm-use tags trying to grub tax money, I can about guarantee antique tags will be next. Hopefully Virginia AACA can ward off another attack on our old cars, but this area has a state legislator who is "sympathetic" to attempts to increase cost of owning an antique car (or anything else FTM). With farm-use tags under attack, I'm sure the Virginia Farm Bureau and other agricultural organizations will help us beat these things back.

I can't deny that both farm-use and antique registrations are abused since there are obvious financial incentives to registering a vehicle as such. Using antique registrations, we in Virginia enjoy exemptions from state safety inspections and local personal property taxes and licenses and to a lesser extent so do farmers registering a vehicle for farm use.

The trouble is that guvminks are like grade-school teachers. Instead of punishing the ones who are obviously abusing the privilege, they want to punish everyone- especially if it might mean they'll get a little more revenue out of it. It would also help if DMV offices would screen farm-use and antique license applications a little closer.

All the more reason to keep a close eye on what your local government officials are doing. It is often not in your interests.

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The hardcopy article took up better than half a page and went into far more detail. What the web article says, says a lot to those of us who know the area and the legislator who represents it in Richmond.

The gist is if they go after the farmers on farm-use tags, antique car owners WILL BE NEXT. Me, I don't like paying any more taxes than I absolutely have to. Especially when a great deal of the revenue collected is used stupidly.

I'm glad things are rosy in upstate New York and you don't have to fight off continued attempts to collect ever more revenue on your hobby. The personal property tax aspect by itself is onerous, because you can bet your bottom dollar these Commissioners of Revenue are well aware of the high-profile old car auctions and are slobbering for a piece of that pie. In your case, with 11 cars, your annual car tax bill in Vajenya at current rates would probably be in the $15k range. Does that put things in perspective?

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Here's another "take" on the "farm-use" license tags . . .

When it was originally implemented (from what I've figured out, at least in TX), there were many more family farms in the state (unlike in more recent times). It wasn't as fashionable to live in the country, either, as there were still many "party line" telephone lines at that time . . . having a "single line" luxury didn't come until the rural lines were expanded in the 1960s. So, if you lived on and worked a farm, it was certainly a much more frugal existence than in the 1970s, by observation. PLUS, the pickup truck you drove was a key item in producing and hauling your farm items to market and hauling farm-related things from town to the farm. In this general timeframe, a Chevy was still using "dipper oiling" and GMCs had pressure oiling, so the "serious" farmers drove GMCs and "city farmers" usually had Chevies.

In the orientation of the truck as a farm production implement, kind of like re-sellers being able to get out of paying sales/use taxes for things they purchased and resold, farmers could claim a "tax-exempt" status or reduced-tax status for certain things. In TX, the "Farm" tags were about 1/2 price of normal pickup truck license tags. This might have reflected the "blended" orientation of not being tax-exempt sales/uses taxes in all cases. So, little real abuse of the "farm" tags in earlier times.

When I was in Lubbock in the 1973-4 timeframe, I was sitting at a red light when a '70 ElCamino SS stopped next to me. I thought nothing of it, but when the light turned green, I then noticed that it had farm tags on it. I laughed . . . it'd take forever to haul any hay crop in with that small bed! Plus, if it didn't have PosiTrac, it'd get stuck too easily. Still, I found that amusing.

Fast forward to the middle 1990s when I was on the front parts counter at work. By that time, many agricultural people didn't ask for their "farm tax exemption" when they bought parts. Usually, by the time they did, I already had the parts invoice about ready to print, so I offered them a 10% discount instead (which was a little bit more than the sales tax exemption would have saved them), which they usually agreed to. NO record-keeping that way, either. As with any TX sales tax they might pay, they could claim an exemption at the end of the year, if they had the correct numbers with the state, on their quarterly tax reports, anyway.

About the only customers who were adamant that they not pay sales tax on parts for their truck were those who remembered World War II, respectfully. A few were persistent and not wanting to get the dealership in trouble for it, I consulted with the local NAPA store. Seems they had a stamp for the ticket stating that the purchase was exempt due to "farm use" for the purchaser to sign. I later went online and researched the state statutes and found the appropriate forms.

In TX, if a vehicle was titled for "Farm Use", it could be used for the production and transportation of crops/produced items to market and also to procure supplies from feed/seed sort of vendors and such . . . ALL farm-related in nature. IF, per chance, the vehicle also stopped at the grocery store or was used to perform any non-farm-related activity, then the tax-exempt status was nullified. By that time, most farmers drove their pickups for EVERYTHING they did, rather than just for dedicated farm-related activities. So, the "abuse" of the farm tags was much more prevalent than in prior decades.

So, for those who asked for the "Farm Use Tax Exemption", I got a copy of the statute and the tax form for them to fill out. Many didn't want to deal with the paperwork and paid the tax. For the few older people, they filled out the form as best they could. We kept it on file just as if they were a business. I also knew their farm activities would be coming to an end in a few years, too, respectfully. When the WWII generation people stopped coming in, the requests for "farm exemption" diminished greatly. I also suspected that those who were really serious about that exemption, were having their accountants/bookkeepers apply for the refunds on their quarterly tax reports rather than requesting it at the time of purchase.

I also suspect that with the big horse ranches and such (replacing family farms, in this area), their cash flow is of greater proportions such that the little bit of tax money they might have saved is far overshadowed by their profits . . . unlike when the Farm Use tags were originated in the earlier 20th Century. Plus, if they have the capabilities of using their trucks as passenger vehicles rather than farm-use only vehicles, paying that little bit of extra money might be better than trying to justify things in a tax audit situation. Plus as their trucks are now costing about $50K+, that's still a smaller percentage of their profits than the $3K trucks of the 1950s were for the earlier farmers. End result is that they get an "anything" truck for $50K+, rather than a "farm use only" truck for "50K+ and having to purchase another "anything" truck for $40K. Cheaper to pay the sales taxes and then sort through the invoices for "farm use only" expenditures, if they do that at all, in the long run.

As for the antique plate issue, I'll send Glenn a PM on that.

Just some thoughts,


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  • 2 weeks later...

Dave, that IS odd. Search engines must be picking it up. All I wanted to do was warn our group to beware of insidious shenanigans by their local governments.

The county supervisor pushing this thing apparently hasn't considered the financial boon local businesses enjoy during the monthly cruise night in the county seat. When you have 350-400 cars show up, and all those folks will generally grab a bite while they're there as well as check out the boutiques, jewelry shops et al who open for that Saturday evening, the financial impact can be significant.

Pittsylvania is a large county, close to 1100 square miles, and is heavily agricultural. It would stand to reason there would be a lot of farm use tags in it.

Let's hope that maybe some Pittsylvania County gov't people are looking at this thread and have realised people are aware of their doings.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I live in Ohio & my birthday is in nov. so I wait till may to get my sticker for the plate on my old car since I don't drive it in the winter I am only losing a couple of mon of driving it.So Two year ago I go in & the charged my full price + a $20.00 penalty for not getting it on time.So I told what I've been doing for the last 10 yrs & she says it doesn't work that way anymore!!No more 1/2yr sticker.

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