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Amish Small Businesses Face E-file Pressure

July 8, 2011

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has been encouraging small businesses in Amish communities to file their taxes electronically, but that’s a problem since the Amish in some of the small upstate communities don’t use electricity, computers or phones.

The Waterbury Daily Times reported that the small business owners have traditionally been filing and paying their sales taxes by mail, but that clashes with a state mandate this year requiring businesses to pay their sales taxes electronically. The mandate is intended to reduce costs and errors associated with paper filing. But it also presents a dilemma for Amish business owners, for whom electronic filing would represent a change of lifestyle. That’s especially true in some of the more conservative communities, which have also rejected government demands for smoke detectors, photo IDs and other modern contraptions.

The state taxation department has offered to talk with the business owners about the problem and said they should call the Taxpayer Contact Center, but since the Amish don’t use telephones, that too presents a perplexing problem.

Meanwhile intermediaries are trying to find a solution so Amish business owners can keep using the good old U.S. Postal Service for their tax payments.

Comments (2)
As a country we have worked hard to observe religious differences and to allow freedom of religion for everyone. That is what our great nation was founded on.

The Amish have adopted this lifestyle for over 300 years that includes no electronics, no government assistance, and no motorized vehicles. I have been spoiled by modern advancements and can't imagine not calling my family and friends every day, having no air conditioning in the hot summer, and no computer to check Facebook or email.

They are a self-sustatined people. They take care of each other. Their religious faith and beliefs have been observed for over 300 years. It is not the lifestyle I would choose, but I also admire and greatly respect them for their God-fearing faith, their hard work, and their humility.

I support their decision to separate themselves from the advances and conveniences of our modern world and to stand out in their uniqueness. Isn't that what freedom is?
Posted by chenley | Friday, July 08 2011 at 10:58AM ET
Another potential problem for the Amish in filing income tax returns is the fact that they do not have Social Security numbers. The IRS resolved that issue many years ago by allowing them to insert "AMISH" in the SS# space on the tax return, and tax software programs have been modified to accept "AMISH" as input, and output, in that otherwise numeric field.

Hopefully state income tax programs have likewise been modified to accommodate this situation across the country. It obviously has been done in PA which has a large Amish community in the Lancaster area.
Posted by DLZALLESTAXES | Friday, July 08 2011 at 9:55AM ET
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