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The Joint Budget Committee on Thursday approved a proposal to exempt from state income tax the payments to farmers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's market facilitation program and stimulus checks from the U.S. Treasury under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

The committee voted to add this amendment, proposed by Rep. Joe Jett, R-Success, to House Bill 1083, an appropriation for the state Department of Finance and Administration for the coming fiscal year.

Jett said farmers were paid under the market facilitation program in response to U.S. tariffs placed on China, and surrounding states have been exempting the payments from state income taxes. He said his proposal would exempt future payments.

As to the stimulus checks, the state Department of Finance and Administration didn't intend to apply state income taxes to them, but "in discussions with [department Secretary] Larry Walther we decided to just put that in the code as well," Jett said.

[CORONAVIRUS: Click here for our complete coverage » arkansasonline.com/coronavirus]

Finance spokesman Scott Hardin said the department wasn't "issuing a fiscal impact statement related to the amendment."

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