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Ohio Farmers Band Together Against Spiking Property Taxes

Corn harvest
United Soybean Board
/
Flickr/Creative Commons
Corn harvest

More than 150 farmers gathered in Trotwood Monday evening to share their concerns about taxes with a group of state legislators.

Recent property tax assessments shocked some farmers with sudden spikes in their taxes. A complex state formula for calculating farm taxes led some to double or triple unexpectedly. At the same time, corn prices are way down due to a near-record crop—which means some landowners suddenly owe more than they can make back farming their land.

“I know a lot of people that are considering selling their farms, or parceling off some pieces to try to have them developed so they can generate some funds,” said Eric Deaton, who owns a farm in New Lebanon. “I have better uses for my money than to just send it off for more property taxes.”

Under a voluntary program called Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV), Ohio assesses farm taxes differently from other property taxes in order to avoid taxing farmers off their land. The formula takes into account assessed values as well as commodity prices and interest rates, but the formula has been thrown out of whack for some by recent fluctuations in markets.

Trotwood City Council member Bruce Kettelle, who is a farmer himself, called the meeting and was joined by representatives of the Ohio Farmers Union. They called for a unified voice to ask the Ohio Department of Taxation to rethink the formula.

A group of state legislators including Senators Peggy Lehner and Bill Beagle say they’re willing to work to find an alternative, but some also cautioned against moving too quickly to change a formula initially designed to save farmers money, because that could backfire in the future. Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith also attended to hear residents' concerns.

Lewis Wallace is WYSO's managing editor, substitute host and economics reporter. Follow him @lewispants.