This spring, the Oregon Department of Revenue (ODR) proposed a rule change that would tax hoop houses as if they were permanent structures – a move that could greatly add to the tax bills of growers who own dozens if not hundreds of the poly-film enclosures. OAN Director of Government Relations Jeff Stone testified before the Oregon Senate’s Finance and Revenue Committee on Tuesday that ODR’s proposal shows officials have difficulty understanding the differences between greenhouses and hoop houses, which are numerous and substantive. The OAN is backing an amendment to House Bill 2904 (HTML|PDF) that would keep hoop houses as they currently are. Here is an excerpt from Stone’s testimony:
There is virtually no nursery or greenhouse member of the OAN that does not have a hoop house. The impact of a change in how the DOR treats these structures would be deeply felt and compromise methods of production to get product ready for market. The industry continues to recover from the devastating storms that pounded the Pacific Northwest just over six months ago. The Obama Administration and Farm Service Agency recognized the importance of rebuilding the structures that were so severely damaged. We appreciate the fact that in tough economic times, county and state tax assessors look for opportunities to add to the tax base. The rulemaking being conducted by the DOR, if implemented, would have considerable negative economic impacts to the farm and nursery industry. A legislative remedy is essential to clear up the statutes and avoid overwhelming consequences.
According to Stone, numerous legislators have been very courteous and helpful in making sure the nursery perspective on this issue is heard. They include Reps. Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay), Bruce Hanna (R-Roseburg) and Vicki Berger (R-Salem). The bill has already passed the House. If the Senate approves it with the proposed hoop-house-friendly amendment, then House concurrence and the governor’s signature would be required to make it law.