Tax relief for farmers passes both houses



STATEHOUSE — Senate Bill (SB) 319, sponsored by State Representative Don Lehe (R-Brookston) and cosponsored by State Representative Ron Bacon (R-Chandler), passed the Indiana House of Representatives on Monday with a 97-0 vote. SB 319 is the first piece of legislation to pass both houses in the 2013 legislative session.

SB 319 addresses the assessment of farmland for property tax purposes. The Department of Local Government Finance had produced a list of changes last year that equals an immediate 20 percent increase in property taxes on farmland. Taxes on farmland the last few years have increased dramatically as the newly enacted controls have held other classes of property static or reduced. By fast tracking the bill, local assessors can implement the new statute before spring documents are mailed out to property owners.

“This bill has been fast tracked because of its important to many Hoosiers,” said Rep. Bacon. “A recent study showed that agricultural land has experienced the largest property tax increase of any type of land since 2007. SB 319 prevents farmers from having to pay a significant increase in taxes, providing some much needed relief following the recent drought last summer.”

In SB 319, the current soil productivity factors, used for the March 2011 assessment of agricultural land value, would remain in place for property taxes payable in 2014. The new soil productivity factors could not be used until 2015. The bill also establishes an interim study committee to study agriculture property tax issues.

“We are really appreciative of those individuals who got this bill to the Senate in a hurry and to the House for now fast tracking it,” said Indiana Farm Bureau tax and local government specialist Katrina Hall. “This is an issue our members have been facing, and we appreciate the efforts to delay this for one more year to access it more generally.”

SB 319 now heads to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.