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HB 1039: Grassland tax relief, a home on the range... and other myths?

Why does he ride for his money?

Why does he rope for short pay?

He ain't gettin' nowhere and he's losin' his share...

Lord they all must be crazy out there.

~Jerry Jeff Walker, Night Rider's Lament

HB 1039 will be heard 1/24/22 in the South Dakota House of Representatives.

To follow some of the history of HB 1039, The Grassland Tax Relief Bill, you can look below:

There's the Productivity System in 2008, the Noem/Peterson bill in 2010, and the Agland task force bill (SB 4) in 2016. If you have sixteen hours or so on hand, you can hear a partial history of the issue, and seek the answers for why we can't create an equitable taxation system for ranchers in South Dakota. Let me know if you find it, because I haven't been able to.

For those looking for a synopsis of the above, you can listen to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Hearing 1/20/22

The main difference here today vs all years past is this: In every other example where this bill was brought, the Department of Revenue recognized there were issues with the taxation system that needed to be adjusted for equity for ranchers. They promised to continue to tweak implementation. They stated on record, that they knew that this bill would be back in some form or another if the system was not fixed. This time around, DOR is denying there is an issue, and they’re even taking it a step further- to assert ranchers are looking for unfair tax breaks, and to try to frighten others with threats of an enormous tax shift. You can mythbust that by listening to the committee hearing from 1/20/22 and also below:

HB 1039 Talking points_handout
Download PDF • 146KB

During the committee hearing on 1/20, conversation from some the powers that be in the room, (those representing the Department of Revenue, business and education) fixated on the following...

"We always hear about all of these ranchers who are going to be taxed off their land. If that was true, this Capitol building would be overrun by ranchers."

There are three reasons why the Capitol won't be overrun by ranchers on 1/24/22:

  1. Ranchers have to ranch in the Winter (unlike other agriculture in South Dakota). They're at home taking care of their herd.

  2. Due to inflation and unfair taxation, most ranchers (and their spouses) have to work in town, just so they can afford to keep their family ranches and cannot lose income to take time off to drive to Pierre. (Notably, those representing business and education also aren't flooding the building with business owners and educators- the presence of their lobbyists is enough- is there a double-standard?)

  3. After decades, many ranchers have given up on trying to communicate with the legislature. In an agricultural state... we have failed them, and they have lost hope of having anyone listening to their voice.

Time is short, and the South Dakota House of Representatives have an important decision to make. Do they acquiesce to the circular arguments presented by the Department of Revenue, and turn a blind eye while South Dakota continues to falsely inflate the taxation burden for one of the smallest portions of our tax classifications, or do we do the work of the legislature, as the lawmakers, which is to create legislation that makes sense for South Dakota? Are we for supporting a strong and viable economy for agriculture (including ranchers)? Do we believe that taxes should only be collected to fund legitimate government functions and that we're committed to cutting spending, lowering taxes, and that our state is not for sale to the highest bidder? We'll get one step closer to that answer after the House of Representatives session on 1/24/2022.

But they ain't never seen the Northern Lights

They ain't never seen the hawk on the wing

They never spent Spring at the Great Divide

And they never heard old camp cookie sing.

~Jerry Jeff Walker, Night Rider's Lament

What can you do? Contact the South Dakota House of Representatives and voice your concerns for South Dakota ranchers.

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