New tax could hinder farmers market growth

2013 law taxes ‘value-added’ items such as soaps, crafts

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

ROCKINGHAM — Laura Greene arrived at the Richmond County Farmers’ Market Wednesday afternoon in downtown Rockingham and, upon seeing only two vendors in the parking lot, realized she has quite the job ahead of her.

A new law isn’t going to make it any easier.

Wednesday was the first day for Greene, 44, of Rockingham, as the new market manager for the market, which earlier this month moved from its Harrington Square location to the parking lot of the former R.W. Goodman Company building on South Lee Street.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Rachel Barker, of Rockingham, prepares to pay for her purchase of tomatoes and other homegrown goodies from the David's Produce booth Wednesday at the Richmond County Farmers' Market in downtown Rockingham.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Rachel Barker, of Rockingham, prepares to pay for her purchase of tomatoes and other homegrown goodies from the David’s Produce booth Wednesday at the Richmond County Farmers’ Market in downtown Rockingham.

North Carolina lawmakers last year passed legislation that imposes a state sales tax of 4.75 percent for “value-added” non-food items, such as soaps and crafts. Glen Allen, of Glen Allen Farms, was one of the two vendors along with David’s Produce to set up a booth Wednesday.

Allen said he had not yet decided to sell his loofah sponges which would fall under the new tax that covers “not produce, not plants, but pretty much everything else.”

Allen said he spoke with one female crafts vendor who told him that with the new tax, “‘I ain’t going in there.'”

“It’s a crime,” said Allen. “I’ve raised (heck) about it. It limits me. I never imagined farmers markets having a tax.”

According to the North Carolina Department of Revenue, “a person engaged in business in this State and selling tangible personal property, and certain digital property at retail, or rendering a taxable service at specialty markets, flea markets, fairs, festivals, sporting events, entertainment events, and other events and functions must register with the North Carolina Department of Revenue and is required to collect and remit sales and use tax unless a specific exemption applies to the product sold.”

The tax affects specialty markets, flea markets, fairs, festivals, sporting and entertainment events among other functions. Susan Kelly, director of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Office – Richmond County Center,  said she understands the new tax, which went into effect last August, could have an adverse impact on vendor turnout.

The tax, Kelly said, is one of the reasons the local farmers market needed a market manager. Greene will be tasked with, among other things, keeping track of vendor sales and reporting data to the state. The position is grant-funded, will pay $15 per hour with no benefits and will average approximately 15 hours a week between Wednesday through October.

Greene said she understands the tax will be hindrance to some vendors. She’s hopeful, however, they’ll still choose to participate.

“It’s an extra step for the smaller vendors,” said Kelly, who noted some will likely see the tax as a necessary cost of doing business. For those that don’t, “it’s a problem.”

Greene assisted David’s Produce and owners David and Jackie Sherrill for seven years. She said she “kind of fell into” the market manager’s position.

Greene said she planned to make personal visits to farmers to entice them to participate in the Richmond County Farmers’ Market. The goal is to make the market attractive to both customers and vendors, she said.

“We’re going to see how it plays out,” Greene said when asked about being committed to the current location. “We are open to more options. We’re always looking to benefit the customers and the vendors.”

Greene emphasized the market is committed to the current location for the 2014 season. The city of Rockingham is leasing the parking lot at a rate of $300 per month each Wednesday from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and each Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon until the end of October.

 

 

 

 

Filed in: Farm & Ag, Featured News, Latest Headlines, News

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