A recommendation by the State Tax Commission that taxes increase on Missouri’s most productive farmland and decrease on its least productive ground has been rejected by the state legislature.
The Tax Commission recommended a 30% tax hike for the best farmland in the state, mainly cropland in the fertile areas of northern and southeastern Missouri. Though the commission also recommended a 24% tax break for the least productive ground, mostly put into pasture, it was the increase that grabbed the attention of lawmakers and sparked a firestorm at the Capitol.
The House picked up and passed the Senate resolution, SCR 35&32, which overturned the commission recommendation. The House voted 143-to-11 to reject the Tax Commission recommendation. The Senate approved the resolution on a 30-to-3 vote earlier. The resolution doesn’t have to go to the governor. Farmland tax rates will remain as is.
The State Tax Commission based its recommendations on studies completed by the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute. FAPRI, operated by the University of Missouri and Iowa State University, is well respected among legislators. Its recommendations carry much weight at the Capitol in Jefferson City.
This time, though, lawmakers rejected the notion that the productivity value of cropland in Missouri had surged and justified a 30% increase in its tax rate. Farmland in Missouri is taxed on its productive value.
House sponsor, Rep. Brian Munzlinger (R-Williamstown), was pleased with the overwhelming vote on the measure, saying that it was important to stop “this outrageous tax increase”. Munzlinger said he didn’t believe that recent gains in farm productivity came from an increase the productivity of the ground, but on the inputs farmers were using. Sen. Bill Stouffer (R-Napton) sponsored the Senate resolution.
The legislature had to act quickly. It had 60 days from the first day of this legislative session to act or the commission’s recommendations went into effect.