Bellefontaine Examiner

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Officials: Amish receive no special tax breaks

It appears, based on online comments posted to a recent story in the Examiner of an Amish buggy crash, some people continue to believe members of the religious sect do not pay taxes.

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An Amish farmer uses a four-horse team to pull a gas-powered hay cutter Tuesday in a field along County Road 96 near Belle Center. (EXAMINER PHOTO | JOEL E. MAST)

That it is wrong, according to local and state tax officials.

“There are no special exemptions for the Amish,” said Gary Gudmundson, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Taxation. “Generally, they pay the same taxes as you and I and as anyone else, to the extent they are conducting transactions that are taxable.”

“They really are paying their fair share,” said Logan County Auditor Michael E. Yoder. “Maybe more.

“They pay real estate tax just like any property owner and 70 percent of that goes to the public schools which they don’t use.”

An Amish business owner also has to obtain a vendor’s license and collect sales tax.

When they shop, they also pay sales tax just like any other consumer. They pay taxes on gasoline for their generators and the 9-1-1 emergency fees on any telephones they have as part of their businesses and homes.

Their buggies are exempt from licensing fees, but the Belle Center group has an annual collection that goes to the county for road maintenance, Mr. Yoder related.

Marcus Schlabach said the local Amish realize shod horses do have an impact on the roads.

“We appreciated the work that goes into taking care of the roads,” he said. “We feel it is part of our responsibility to voluntarily do that.”

Once a year, they collect $25 per vehicle and turn in the funds to the county.

The process involves very little paperwork, so that money goes directly to the local roads.

In Logan County, the cost for a passenger vehicle license starts at $34.50 including all of Bellefontaine. There are some jurisdictions that have added a $5 permissive fee for road maintenance.

Of the $34.50 fee, $3.50 stays local to cover the processing fee. The rest is divided between state and the county.

Logan County Engineer Scott Coleman said the county expects to receive $1.5 million in licensing fees this year.

There are tax exemptions open to the Amish just as there are for any religious sect or for public or parochial schools.

Public school properties are exempt from property tax as are church properties.

The Amish, however, do not have a church building. Instead, they meet in homes.

As for Social Security, the Amish can opt out for religious reasons, which is also open to other religious sects.

John Belser of Belser Patterson Financial Group said it is done on a person-by-person basis. Each application is signed by a local Amish bishop and forwarded to the federal government for approval.

“They are basically saying, ‘We have our own retirement system,’” Mr. Belser said. “Once they opt out, they obviously cannot collect any Social Security benefits.”

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