Farmers aim to reduce farmland property taxes

Published 10:31 am Monday, November 28, 2016

MANKATO — The amount of farmland property taxes that go toward paying new schools has become a topic of discussion in light of the tight farm economy.

Property taxes are more noticeable with two years of low crop prices and tough-to-balance budgets.

“We’re looking for a way it’s more equitable to fund education, whether it’s more people in the district or the state taking a bigger share of it,” said Minnesota Farm Bureau president Kevin Paap, who farms in the Garden City area. “Especially with school bond referendums — rural property owners are paying significantly more, 10 times more, than people living in the city.”

Email newsletter signup

Farmland owners pay taxes on their entire property toward bond referendums that have been passed to build new schools, while city residents’ property tax bill is based on the value of their home and lot.

“It creates that rural, urban split,” Paap said.

Votes for new schools in smaller rural districts are often split with in-town residents in favor of the schools and farmers not in favor.

A provision for a tax bill passed in the last legislative session would have reduced the levy tax bill for farmers by giving them a tax credit from the state. The tax credit, which would have been paid for by the state’s general fund, was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton because of a language error in the bill. The annual Rural Legislative Forum will be on Dec. 8 and will provide an overview of the property tax system in Minnesota.