Spin Control

WA Lege Day 52: Exemption for farmers markets on church lots advances

OLYMPIA -- Churches would be able to hold occasional farmer's markets on their property without losing their tax exempt status under a bill passed overwhelmingly Wednesday by the Senate.

The Senate gave 46-1 approval to a bill that allows churches and other public meeting places owned by nonprofit organizations to hold farmers markets for as many as 53 days a year, as long as the money the organization gets goes for charitable purposes.

Last summer the state Department of Revenue informed two Spokane churches and one in Millwood they'd have to pay taxes on their property or stop holding farmer's markets on it. Tax-exempt organizations aren't allowed to run commercial businesses on their property under state law, the department said.

House Bill 2402 sets up standards that churches and other nonprofits must follow in setting up the markets.  It returns to the House, where it passed 97-0 last month, because of amendments approved in the Senate.




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