The Buzz on Honey Bees in Washington
- Jul 21, 2015 | Gail Cole
It’s a good year to be a honey beekeeper in Washington State, where the legislature has a specific public policy to support the honey bee industry and provide tax relief to eligible apiarists. Lawmakers have called out the fact that 80% of the nation’s flowering crops, which include agricultural crops, are pollinated by honey bees. The legislature has taken the stance that if anyone deserves a helping hand, it’s the honey bees and the humans who support them. They are, after all, “an integral part of food production.”
Therefore, effective July 1, 2015, eligible apiarists are considered to be “farmers” for excise tax purposes. Under Washington law, an eligible apiarist is a person who does all of the following:
- Owns or keeps one or more bee colonies
- Grows, raises or produces honey bee products for sale at wholesale
- Registers under RCW 15.60.021
A “farmer” in Washington now includes “the growing, raising, or producing honey bee products for sale, or providing bee pollination services, by an eligible apiarist. A natural extension of this is to expand the definition of “agricultural product” to include honey bee products, which it now does.
Honey beekeepers are eligible for a retail sales tax exemption on replacement parts and repair services, provided the farmer meets all of the following requirements:
- Grows, raises or produces honey bee products for sale
- Provides bee pollination services
- Has an annual gross income of more than $10,000 from sales
The following are exempt from Washington B&O taxes:
- Bee pollination services provided by an eligible apiarist to a farmer
- Bee sales by eligible apiarists to farmers for providing bee pollination services
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