Legislation passed during the 2020 Virginia General Assembly amended the Code of Virginia to allow localities to provide tax exemptions to equipment and machinery used for forest harvesting. The bill, HB1021, allowed forestry equipment to be included in the same exemptions already provided to machinery used for farming.
Virginia Loggers Association Executive Director Ron Jenkins recently asked the Greensville County Board of Supervisors to join a growing list of Virginia counties in adding the new exemptions to their budget. Ten Virginia counties have already adopted the new legislation into their current budget: Allegheny, Bath, Bedford, Brunswick, Campbell, Goochland, Highland, Pittsylvania, Rockbridge and Wythe counties.
Jenkins and others have noted the similarities between farming and logging to make their case for localities to adopt these new exemptions. Both industries use equipment that is single-use, meaning it cannot be used for other commercial ventures. Jenkins also notes that both industries rely on crops that are perishable and considered “essential products.”
“Forest harvesting equipment is very expensive,” Jenkins said. “Owners like to replace their equipment but it’s difficult to do so with high annual taxes. We need relief from these taxes to ensure these companies can stay strong and pass them to the next generation.”
Richard Short, owner of Real Tree Wood Corporation in Emporia, was on hand to speak on behalf of loggers in his company and around the state. Short said adopting the new exemptions would be a welcome sign for loggers looking to do business in Greensville County.
“This is an opportunity for the county to have an open invitation for businesses such as logging to come in to our area and open up shop,” Short said.
Short said his company has 35 employees who would greatly benefit from the new exemptions. His employees and their families patronize businesses in the county, as well as the City of Emporia.
Short says the biggest hurdles for loggers in the area are fuel costs, taxes and insurance – all of which would be helped if the logging equipment were to be made tax exempt.