More on the Proposed Tax Increase for Farmers
I really liked this piece by Sen. Jason Crowell in the Southeast Missourian about the proposed property tax increase in agricultural land in Missouri. (Thanks to Mr. Combest for the link.) What I liked most about it was that it focused its ideas on why we should not raise taxes on agriculture, instead of trying to sell the idea that agriculture is already overtaxed in Missouri — which it ain’t. (Note use of term “ain’t” as attempt by said blogger to sound country when writing about farming.) I wrote about this last month when the proposal to raise the assessed valuations of some farmland first came out.
Senator Crowell writes:
Both the director of Missouri’s Department of Agriculture and the Missouri Farm Bureau disagree with the tax Commission’s decision, warning that a tax increase could be extremely damaging to Missouri’s farmers as they work in this struggling economy.
I certainly agree with that. Now is not the time to make food more expensive, and it may never be the right time to do that via tax policy. However, sometimes in the interest of setting proper valuations on which to base property taxes, some people will see their taxes rise while others see them fall. It is important to remind people that some agricultural property would see its assessments — and, thereby, taxes — fall as a result of this study.
I’ll emphasize that I support preventing this new assessment system from going into place, but let’s not pretend for a moment that farm taxes are high in Missouri. That acre of farmland producing valuable commodities that the farmer will sell would only have been valued at $1,270 per acre. That does not entail a tax of $1,270 per acre; as explained nicely here, the tax rates would only be based on that valuation. A tax rate of $7 per hundred dollars of assessed valuation (about average for St. Louis County; it is probably lower in rural Missouri) leads to a property tax of $10.67 per acre — not very much. At that rate, it would take more than 400 acres of the most productive farmland in Missouri to equal the property taxes we pay on our 1/4-acre lot for a starter home in suburban University City. So, keep the taxes as they are; just don’t tell me farmers face a heavy tax burden in Missouri.
If we should be lowering taxes on any one area in Missouri, it should be on commercial/manufacturing property.