A bill by State Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg) to prevent an estimated $57 million property tax increase on Indiana farmers may be the first piece of legislation approved by the full General Assembly during the 2013 session.
New soil productivity factors used for farmland assessment in Indiana could cause a 25 percent average increase in property tax payments for Indiana’s 62,000 farmers, depending on which counties they call home. Leising said, because of those upcoming property tax assessments, the bill has been fast-tracked and was approved by the House Committee on Ways and Means Monday with a 20-0 vote.
Senate Bill 319 would delay, for an additional year, the implementation of new soil productivity factors proposed by the Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) used to assess farmland property taxes, meaning the soil productivity factors used for the March 1, 2011 assessment date will be used again for the March 1, 2013 assessment date.
Leising said her legislation was developed after she led the General Assembly’s 2012 Interim Study Committee on Agriculture.
“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.”
SB 319 would also require the DLGF, with the Purdue University College of Agriculture, to submit a report on proposed soil productivity factors by Nov. 1, 2013 to the General Assembly for consideration.
Indiana Farm Bureau (IFB) supports SB 319, noting it could be the most 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.”
Leising’s legislation now moves to the full House of Representatives for further consideration.
- Rushville Republican