An Act To Clarify Provisions of the Blueberry Tax
Sec. 1. 36 MRSA §4303, first ¶, as amended by PL 2013, c. 331, Pt. C, §23, is further amended to read:
There is levied and imposed a tax at the rate of 1 1/2¢ per pound on all wild blueberries processed in this the State and on all unprocessed wild blueberries shipped to a destination outside this the State and a tax at the rate of 3/4¢ per pound on all wild blueberries shipped from outside the State to a processor in the State. The tax is computed on the gross weight of the wild blueberries as delivered prior to any processing or shipping. The processor that first receives unprocessed wild blueberries in the State, or the shipper that transports unprocessed wild blueberries to a destination outside the State, is responsible for reporting and paying the tax.
Sec. 2. 36 MRSA §4307, as amended by PL 2013, c. 331, Pt. C, §28, is further amended to read:
§ 4307. Records and reports; payment of tax
Every processor or shipper responsible for reporting and paying the tax imposed by section 4303 shall, on or before November 1st of each year, report to the State Tax Assessor the quantity of unprocessed wild blueberries that are processed in this the State or , shipped to a destination outside the State or shipped from a destination outside the State during the current season, on forms furnished by the State Tax Assessor. The report must contain the information pertinent to collection of tax under this chapter as the State Tax Assessor prescribes. With the report, each processor or shipper shall forward payment of the full 1 1/2¢ per pound tax under section 4303 upon all wild blueberries reported.
Sec. 3. 36 MRSA §4308, first ¶, as amended by PL 1997, c. 511, §17 and PL 2011, c. 657, Pt. W, §6, is further amended to read:
The State Tax Assessor or , the assessor's duly authorized agents , the Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the commissioner's deputies, agents or employees have authority to enter any place of business of any processor or shipper or any car, boat, truck or other conveyance in which wild blueberries are to be or are being transported , including on a public way, and to inspect any books or records of any processor or shipper, or any premises where wild blueberries are stored, handled, transported or merchandised, for the purpose of determining what wild blueberries are taxable under this chapter or for the purpose of determining the truth or falsity of any statement or return made by any processor or shipper , and the State Tax Assessor may delegate that power to the . The Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry; or the commissioner's deputies, agents or employees shall conduct periodic random inspections of processors and shippers under this section and section 4316, subsection 4, so that every processor or shipper certified under section 4305 is inspected at least once within a 3-year period.
Sec. 4. 36 MRSA §4311-A, sub-§1, as amended by PL 1997, c. 511, §18, is further amended to read:
Sec. 5. 36 MRSA §4311-A, sub-§3-A is enacted to read:
Sec. 6. 36 MRSA §4312-C, sub-§13 is enacted to read:
Sec. 7. 36 MRSA §4315, sub-§4, ¶A, as amended by PL 2007, c. 694, §9, is repealed.
Sec. 8. 36 MRSA §4316, as amended by PL 2007, c. 694, §10 and PL 2011, c. 657, Pt. W, §5, is further amended to read:
§ 4316. Record keeping of shippers and processors
This bill amends the laws regarding the wild Maine blueberry tax in the following ways.
1. It establishes a tax of 3/4¢ per pound for wild blueberries shipped from outside the State for processing in the State.
2. It requires detailed reporting of the wild blueberry transactions subject to the tax.
3. It requires the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to conduct periodic random inspections of wild blueberry shippers and processors so that each shipper and processor is inspected at least once in a 3-year period.
4. It requires the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine to maintain and periodically update a detailed survey of the wild blueberry industry acreage, assets and other industry data.
5. It requires the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine to submit an itemized report of its yearly revenue and expenditures to the Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over agriculture matters.
6. It requires shippers and processors to maintain permanent records of the origin of wild blueberries received by the shippers and processors.
7. It prohibits the mixing or commingling of wild blueberries harvested from a field with wild blueberries harvested from another field and requires each field from which wild blueberries are harvested to have a unique identifying number and shippers and processors to record for each lot of wild blueberries shipped, received, transported or processed the unique identifying number of that lot.
8. It changes the penalty for a 2nd violation of the record-keeping requirements within a 5-year period from up to $10,000 to $10,000.
9. It allows the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to audit a shipper or processor at its own discretion.