A move is underway in the House to reject a tax increase on farmland proposed by the State Tax Commission, even as sponsors acknowledge that in doing so they reject a tax cut for some farmers. If anything is to be done, it must be done fast.
House Agri-Business Committee Chairman Brian Munzlinger (R-Williamstown) put it simply.
“I just feel this is not the time to be raising taxes,” Munzlinger testified in front of his committee on HCR 7, a resolution that would reject the State Tax Commission recommendation.
The commission recommends a 30% tax increase on the top four categories of farmland, mostly the state’s best cropland, but not necessarily confined to row crops. Some is in pasture. The commission recommends a 24% tax decrease on three categories of the least valuable Missouri farmland. The commission made its recommendation based on a Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) study that indicated the productive value of cropland had risen with the rise of the ethanol industry. A depressed livestock industry led the commission to recommend the tax cut for pasture land. Farmland is assessed based on its productive value.
Two other representatives appeared before the committee on the issue, both proposing rejection of the State Tax Commission recommendation. Rep. Casey Guernsey (R-Bethany) sponsors HCR 3. Rep. Mike Lair (R-Chillicothe) sponsors HCR 17.
During testimony before the committee, Munzlinger contended that even though ethanol might have increased the productive value of cropland, it hasn’t pushed it up enough to absorb a big tax hike.
“With the current economic situation that we are facing in general, but also in the agricultural economy where farmers carry a very heavy debt load, we feel this is just no time at all to be putting especially a 30% tax increase on a lot of our land we have in this state,” said Munzlinger.
If lawmakers are to stop the tax increase, as well as the tax cut, they must act quickly. State law gives the legislature 60 days from the beginning of the session to reject the Tax Commission’s proposal.