You don't have to go to Las Vegas or Reno or even and Indiana casino if you just want to feel the thrill of a gambling-type activity. It's much simpler than that. You can just visit your local retails supply store. Buy what you need and head to the checkout counter.
Tell the clerk that your farm is tax exempt. Usually you'll already have filed a form with the proper information on it, and filed it with the store. They use a simple process to call up your records, often asking phone number. Then you get to sign again on their machine saying you're tax-exempt. In the end, Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield, a farmland owner and also Indiana Farm Bureau lobbyist, says that signature verifies that you're the one claiming the exemption, not the store.
So if an audit of that store someday reveals sales tax should have been paid and it wasn't, you're the party responsible, not the sore. Typically, the Indianan Department of Revenue will discover that tax should have been charged when they audit the retailer's books. At that point, they contact the buyer directly, seeking reimbursement with penalty and interest.
OK, where does the feel of gambling come in? For me, it's when the clerk starts ringing up items that you have brought up to the counter. The trick is that you never know whether an item will be tax exempt or not. If you're fairly sure it will be, it may not be. And if you're fairly confident another item won't be tax exempt, it just might be.
There seems to be no rhyme or reason to it. And if you think it's confusing and bad for you as the buyer, imagine the poor clerk at the store, who tries to be knowledgeable about what it taxable and what isn't taxable for her farm customers.
For example, fence posts and fence wire- taxable or not? They're certainly needed if you're pasturing animals. But Stacey McFarland, senior communications specialist for the Indiana Department of Revenue, says they are not exempt. You're going to pay tax on them no matter what you are using them for, even if you're using them to be more efficient through setting up for rotational grazing with what you buy.
Buy something like a rotary mower; say a 6-footer that goes behind either a utility tractor or a bigger farm tractor. Then it gets really tricky, Cherry says. Under the law, which McFarland confirms, if you're mowing pastures, it's OK not to pay the tax. But if you bought it jus to mow the backlot and maybe roadsides, it's not tax-exempt, In that case, you should pay sales tax on it.
Confused? Let's hope so. Otherwise you might not be in your right mind!