State Senator James L. Seward today took aim at a 'farm tax' in the Spitzer/Paterson budget that he said would raise costs for farmers buying more acreage or anyone starting out in agriculture. The budget proposal advanced in the Spitzer/Paterson budget would significantly raise the state's real estate transfer filing fee on land sales, which would hit farmers who buy and sell agricultural property, or someone starting out in agriculture. The current fee of $75 could rise as high as $400 under the proposed tax increase in the Spitzer/Paterson budget, which is still the operative budget document in spite of Spitzer's resignation.
"The governor's proposed jump in the transfer tax hits any property sold for more than $175,000, and those who buy land to add to their farm operations or who buy a farm aren't getting tracts of farmland free," Seward said. "In addition, children of farmers who want to continue the family farm would be hammered by the higher tax. Farmers are being squeezed by higher feed and fuel prices, and the governor's proposed tax is a genuine farm buster."
The current $75 tax would rise in increments, based on sale price, staying at $75 for land sold for less than $175,000 but rising in steps to $400 for farmland sold for more than $1,000,000. The transfer tax on nonagricultural land sales would rise from its current $75 to as much as $575.
"New York professes that agriculture is our top industry and yet this 'sneak tax' makes buying farmland more expensive," Seward said. "It's an affront to our agricultural roots and one more way to hit up taxpayers."
Seward also said he continues to fight the Spitzer/Paterson hike in the gas tax, which is another burden on families.
"Farmers and families need tax relief, not another tax on a fee on top of a tax," Seward said.
Seward is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.