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Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-Woodstock) today announced that he will patron legislation to reverse a new and potentially destructive ruling by the Virginia Department of Taxation to collect sales tax on the processing of consumer-owned food items by butchers and meat processors. As a result of the recent ruling, hunters who drop off deer carcasses to be processed and farmers who bring in cattle and hogs to be butchered for their own consumption will be required to pay the 5% Virginia sales tax on the processing of those meats. Although the Department of Taxation based their new ruling on existing statutory law and their own administrative code, it is a first in Virginia for the Department of Taxation to apply this longstanding rule on the fabrication of goods to consumer-owned food.
On October 22nd, Blue Ridge Meats, a small slaughterhouse located in Front Royal, was notified by the tax department that it would have to begin collecting sales tax on meat that it processed for consumers, even if the meat was brought to them by the consumers themselves. The company is appealing the ruling and is represented by Front Royal attorney and 18th District Delegate, Clifford L. (Clay) Athey, Jr.
Delegate Gilbert stated in a prepared statement: “I represent countless hunters, family farmers, and other consumers who routinely take meat to the butcher so that they can put in their freezers and help feed their families during the year. They pay for this service. To then charge them a sales tax on food they already own is preposterous. Not only is it inherently unfair for the tax man to line up for his cut, this tax will have real consequences for those who are forced to pay it. Farmers are already struggling to pay their livestock feed costs, and the Virginia Department of Taxation now demands that they pay a 5% sales tax for the necessity of converting their own livestock into food for their families. In an area where our hunting heritage is so important to so many people, hunters will likewise be taxed for bringing in their game to be processed in a safe and hygienic manner. My bill will exempt such food items from the hungry eyes of the tax man.”
Delegate Athey (R-Warren) added: “I represent the folks who are fighting this unfair ruling as both their lawyer and their delegate. I was shocked to learn of this inherently unfair ruling and we are working to reverse it both legally and legislatively.”
Delegate Beverly Sherwood (R-Frederick) added: “As Chairman of the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee and a member of the Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee, I work very hard to protect the rights of our local hunters and the livelihoods of our farmers. I will do everything in my power to ensure this bill becomes law.”