By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
An existing property tax statute is now being used in Quay County to help children learn about the livestock industry in New Mexico, including financial responsibilities, according to the Quay County assessor and the chairman of the New Mexico Livestock Board.
As in many years before, children, independently or as a part of Quay County 4-H and other organizations, have raised animals to show at the county fair in hopes of making a sale.
However, this year the children who have raised and shown these animals are expected to receive letters from the Quay County Assessors office inquiring about the length of time their animals have spent in the county in order to determine whether the children need to pay property tax on the livestock they have raised.
The statute “has been in effect for many years, though we have never collected on it before now,” said Janie Hoffman, county assessor.
Hoffman said the statute says any Class A animal in a county for more than 20 days is valued for property tax. She said the forms are sent directly to the children, since records show that the animals are registered to them.
Hoffman said the question of assessing property tax on children’s animals was raised at a meeting with New Mexico Livestock Board Chairman Bill Sauble. At the meeting, she said, Sauble advised her children should be charged property tax as part of their introduction to the realities of the livestock industry.
Sauble said the fee itself is “fairly minor” and depends on several factors, including the time the animal spends in the county and what school district and bond issues affect the mill levies where the animal resides. Sauble said the tax bills could range from $6 or $7 a year for a pig, to $10 to $13 per year for a cow.
State property tax authorities establish the basis for setting value on each particular type of livestock every year, based on sales values they monitor for each variety in the previous year.
“Many of these animals will only be in the county for a short time and the property tax bill will be much smaller,” Sauble said.
Sauble said sending the tax bill to the children introduces them to the one of the responsibilities of industry members. He said it is in no way an attack on the 4-H members or children raising animals for show.
Sauble said the taxes would be limited to animals that include beef and dairy cattle, sheep, goats, horses, hogs, buffalo, alpacas and llamas. He said the tax records will also help the livestock board to keep accurate counts of livestock in each county.
Sauble said the only role the livestock board plays in the taxation of children’s animals is to furnish assessors with livestock numbers from livestock inspections. He said livestock is personal property. It is up to owners, he said, to report to the assessor how many head of what kinds of livestock they have.
Sauble said that in the past, animals registered to children have not been accounted for because of their share of the tax assessment has been so low, it has not seemed worth the time and effort to get them recorded, so owners do not report them. Sauble, however, said these taxes contribute to state funds, including money for area school districts.
Sauble said, however, that many parents see the taxes assessed against children’s livestock as an unnecessary cost placed on a child, no matter how small the amount may be.
“As a parent of a child who is showing animals this year I feel this new tax is a burden that takes away from the overall goal of what raising animals is about, that is to teach our children responsibility and values,” said Becky Hall. “By finding new ways to tax something that benefits our children, parents are not going to be able to give these learning experiences to their children and that hurts everyone.”
Hall said this was the first year her 10-year old daughter Kylie Griggs raised two pigs for showing at the Quay County Fair Aug. 14-17 in Tucumcari.
Hall said both pigs qualified for the fair’s annual livestock sale, but only one could be entered.
Hall said that while the tax may help introduce children to realities of the livestock industry, the government needs to understand these kids are not officially in the industry yet.
Hall said animals like her daughter’s pigs are show animals and the kids are not making money on them. She said there is no guarantee that all the children’s animals will make the sale at a fair and even for those fortunate enough to make the sale, the sale price doesn’t guarantee the kids will come out ahead.
Hall said the family helped Kylie with the expenses of buying and feeding the pigs — about $2,000 from start to finish. She said there was an additional cost for equipment and pens, which they will not have Kylie repay.
Hall said her daughter will receive money from the sale, and the sale proceeds are taxed by the state. The income that remains after taxes, she said, goes to cover the cost for this year’s animals and towards buying animals for the next year. She said pig that wasn’t sold still has to be fed different food to get the show feed out of its system before it can be processed, adding an additional cost.
Hall said the two pigs resided in the county for three to four months at the most, and that on top of purchase and sales taxes, her daughter will now have to pay a property tax.