(Indianapolis, Ind.) - Indiana Lawmakers are advancing a proposed one year delay in new calculations for property taxes on Indiana farmland.
Reports say that updated soil productivity factors could result in an average increase of 25 percent for tax payments on farmland. The change would mean up to $57 million more in tax revenue for the state.
Senate Bill 319, authored by State Senator Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg) would delay the new taxing method until next year. Soil productivity factors from 2011 would again be used in 2013.
The bill is getting fast-tracked through the legislature because county assessors will soon begin property tax assessments. The House Ways and Means Committee approved the bill on a 20-0 vote Monday, sending it to the House floor. The legislation had earlier passed the Senate 48-0.
Leising says she wants to make sure farmland is being assessed fairly. In addition to the delay, SB 319 requires the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance to work with the Purdue University College of Agriculture to submit to the General Assembly a report on proposed soil productivity factors by November 1, 2013.
Last summer’s drought has made the delay necessary, Leising argues.
“A large focus of this summer’s study committee meetings was the drought our farmers were experiencing,” Leising said. “This led us, as legislators, to ask ourselves what we could do to help our struggling farm families. We knew the new soil productivity factors would have a negative impact on farmers. Now it’s time to ensure farmland is being assessed using common sense and in a way that doesn’t burden those who are the backbone of Indiana agriculture — a huge segment of our overall economy.”
The Indiana Farm Bureau called SB 319 perhaps the important legislation for the state’s agriculture industry this year.
“For the last year, this has been one of the most serious tax issues facing Indiana farmers,” IFB spokeswoman Katrina Hall said. “We really appreciate Senator Leising’s diligence with this legislation. We can’t thank her enough for her detailed attention to the problems facing our farmers.”