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Farmland taxes again a top priority for IFB

—By Kathleen M. Dutro
Public Relations Team

Farmers need to deliver a message to their state legislators, said Katrina Hall, Indiana Farm Bureau director of state government relations.

“Farmland property taxes are absorbing the profitability of agriculture,” she said, adding that unless state officials take action, the problem is only going to get worse – much worse.

From 2007 to 2013, property taxes paid by farmers went up 33 percent, she said.

“That’s $100 million in additional taxes from the ag sector,” she explained.

But because there’s a delay in how commodity prices affect the taxable value of farmland, the increase will rapidly escalate over the next four years and so will farmland taxes. Roughly estimated, farmers now pay an average of $30 per acre. But if the trend continues, and if there’s no relief, taxes could be as high as $71 per acre for productive soils in counties that have reached the 2 percent cap.

“That is oppressive and it’s not sustainable for any farming operation,” Hall said.

Farmland taxes will be Indiana Farm Bureau’s top priority for the 2015 legislative session, and the organization has begun an information campaign with legislators and fiscal policy thought leaders from other influential organizations. The first step was hosting an informational meeting on July 1 intended to acquaint them with the issue and advise them about the major problem with farmland taxes that is looming on the horizon. Farm Bureau is exploring a variety of remedies that will be discussed with legislative fiscal leaders in the coming months.

“There’s a general misunderstanding about the taxes farmers pay,” Hall said, explaining that many legislators are under the impression that farmers already receive more than their fair share of tax breaks and exemptions.

“Farmers pay a lot of taxes and pay on the same basis as other similarly situated individuals or businesses. Misconceptions create a real cloud when discussing tax burdens,” she said. The best way to correct this error is for farmers to tell their property tax story. “We will be asking members to create a profile and tell their property tax story to state representatives, state senators, and Governor Pence’s administration,” stressed Hall.

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