If you recall in April of this year, when beekeepers swarmed the steps of the Washington Legislature for our very first Honey Bee Awareness Day , there were two bills being considered by lawmakers: SB5017 and HB1654. Unfortunately, neither of those bills passed.
However, a Substitute Senate Bill 6057 passed in a special session of the Legislature, in June, which effectively achieved what SB5017 set out to do – to provide permanent B&O tax exemption for qualified beekeepers. SB6057 also designates beekeepers as farmers in the eyes of the state, which allows for some retail tax exemptions too.
The Department of Revenue’s Special notice on this can be found here and excerpt of it is below for your review. Please be aware there’s still a need for clarity on how exactly SB6057 is to be interpreted for beekeepers. Tim Hiatt, Legislative Chair of Washington State Beekeepers Association has raised some questions with the Dept of Revenue to get clarity. Their response indicates a beekeeper tax guide is underway. Tim anticipates its availability in October of this year so stay tuned for an update. In the meantime, if you have any questions please contact Tim directly so he can be sure your questions get addressed.
Legislative changes for honey beekeepers
Effective July 1, 2015, the following changes apply to the honey beekeepers industry:
Terms and definitions
- Eligible apiarists are now “farmers” for excise tax purposes. (Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill (ESSB) 6057 Part XI; Chapter 6, Laws of 2015)
- The term “agricultural product” has changed and now includes “honey bee products”. (RCW 82.04.213)
- The term “farmer” now includes “the growing, raising, or producing honey bee products for sale, or providing bee pollination services, by an eligible apiarist. (RCW 82.04.213)
- “Eligible apiarist” means a person who owns or keeps one or more bee colonies and grows, raises, or produces honey bee products for sale at wholesale and registers under RCW 15.60.021 (Note: The definition of “eligible apiarist” has not changed, but moved from RCW 82.04.629 (repealed) to RCW 82.04.213)
- “Honey bee products” means queen honey bees, packaged honey bees, honey, pollen, beeswax, propolis, or other substances from honey bees. Honey bee products do not include manufactured substances or articles. (Note: The definition of “honey bee products” has not changed, but moved from RCW 82.04.629 (repealed) to RCW 82.04.213)
B&O tax exemption
Bee pollination services provided to a farmer by an “eligible apiarist” are exempt from B&O tax. (RCW 82.04.330)
Also, bee sales by eligible apiarist to farmers for providing bee pollination services are exempt from B&O tax. (RCW 82.04.330)
Retail sales tax exemption
Honey beekeepers are now eligible for retail sales tax exemption on replacement parts and repair services. The definition of farmer for the farm replacement parts exemption now includes: a person who grows, raises or produces honey bee products for sale and a person who provides bee pollination services, and whose annual gross income from sales is more than ten thousand dollars. (RCW 82.08.855)