WASHINGTON – Today Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) And Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) Reintroduced the Water and Agriculture Tax Reform (WATER) Act, a bipartisan law passed unanimously by the US House of Representatives in the 115th Congress was adopted. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) And Senator Mike Crapo (R-Ind.) Reintroduced the accompanying legislation in the Senate.
The WATER bill would lower water costs and support the economic vitality of rural communities by allowing mutual irrigation, reservoir and water companies to make important infrastructure advances without raising prices or losing their tax exemptions.
“Mutual irrigation, reservoir and water companies play a critical role in the agriculture industry in Colorado and across the country.” said Rep Buck. “Farmers and ranchers should be able to maintain and develop their water infrastructure without being penalized. The WATER Act will replace an annoying restriction with a beneficial solution that will support America’s rural communities. “
“Across Colorado, access to clean water and the conservation of water resources is a major concern of our communities.” said Rep. Neguse. “Today I am excited to be working with Congressman Buck on the bipartisan WATER Act to reduce water costs and benefit our rural communities. This legislation will reduce red tape and is a sensible measure in support of ranchers and farmers in Colorado. “
“In the face of the intense drought, farmers and ranchers in the West are relying more than ever on water infrastructure to keep their land productive.” said Senator Bennet. “Our bipartisan legislation helps ensure that trenching and irrigation companies in Colorado and across the west are able to keep critical water infrastructure in good working order.”
“The cost of maintaining and operating aging water infrastructure has skyrocketed in recent years, imposing higher prices on farmers and ranchers in Idaho.” said Senator Crapo. “Current tax law penalizes mutual digging and irrigation companies’ investments in much-needed water infrastructure projects that are necessary to maintain a thriving agricultural sector. The WATER Act would update and reduce these currently burdensome restrictions. “
This legislation is supported by representatives John Curtis (R-Utah), David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), Jason Crow (D-Colo.), Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) And Liz Cheney (R-Wyo). ).
Under applicable law, mutual irrigation, reservoir and water companies can qualify for tax exemption if 85 percent of the company’s income comes from member shareholders that include farmers, ranchers and rural water users.
However, if more than 15 percent of their income comes from non-members, such as recreational rentals or crossing fees, these companies could lose their tax exemption. As a result, farmers, ranchers and rural communities are forced to meet operating and maintenance costs in the form of higher water ratings.
This legislation would exclude certain sources of income such as recreational rentals or crossing fees from the 85 percent threshold in order to maintain tax-exempt status when the income is used solely for operating and maintenance costs. This solution would support the local economy, support farmers and ranchers, and ensure that money is invested in improving rural water infrastructure.
The legal text of the WATER Act can be viewed here.