Taxes don’t often go the way we want them to. We’re always either too taxed or our government bodies are too reckless with the hard-earned dollars we contribute toward those state, federal and local programs and projects. It’s why it’s always a selling point for any candidate running for office: promise to lower taxes, and be seen by the electorate as the savior of their wages.
Republican candidates always talk about lowering taxes. Democratic candidates talk about raising taxes on the rich to help the poor. What you don’t see often is a promise of responsibility for the tax dollars that are already coming in.
I’ve never minded paying taxes. Don’t get me wrong: I look forward to that time each year when I can point out to the IRS that I overpaid and they actually owe me. What bothers me more than paying taxes is seeing how those taxes are spent, and how decisions on what gets taxed and how much are made.
Poultry farmers, unfortunately, are on the brunt end of some of those poor decisions right now. They’ll of course join the rest of the residents of the Huntsville School District who will see their taxes increase due to the recent millage increase, approved by voters (and thankfully so – we need better for our students and community), but they’ll also see taxes on their poultry houses double over the next 10 years (no more than 10 percent each year, due to Arkansas law). The difference? One decision was voted on by their peers. The other by a governing agency.
The story that’s come down the pipeline is that the Arkansas Assessment Coordination Department made the judgment that poultry houses in the state should be taxed uniformly. This reportedly came about after a county assessor in eastern Arkansas approached the state for guidance on taxation of a new poultry development in their own county, which was evidently a newly-forged path there.
There is something to be said for uniformity. But when it comes to taxes, there’s a reason people choose to live where they do. We still have one of the lowest millage rates in the state of Arkansas, even with the recent increase (if the district asked for another increase to update its other facilities, I would absolutely support that, too). But our farmers shouldn’t be forced with the same rates that those in Benton and Washington and Pulaski counties are.
We hear politicians talk all the time about returning control to local governments. I won’t say that’s always the answer, but this poultry tax should be left in the hands of the people it affects and decided on locally, not by a commission in Little Rock.