Co­nun­drum of farm prop­erty tax

The Expositor (Brantford) - - NEWS - MICHAEL-AL­LAN MAR­ION MMar­ion@post­media.com @ex­pMar­ion

Farm­ers are in a co­nun­drum at prop­erty tax time, caught be­tween as­sess­ment rates set by the Mu­nic­i­pal Prop­erty As­sess­ment Corp. and tax rates set by the mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil, says On­tario Fed­er­a­tion of Agri­cul­ture di­rec­tor Larry Davis.

The prob­lem takes on more ur­gency and farm or­ga­ni­za­tions have to be more ac­tive in press­ing their case as mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ments are set­ting their bud­gets and tax rates for 2018, Davis, of Bur­ford, says in a com­men­tary posted on the fed­er­a­tion’s web­site.

“Last year, many On­tario farm­ers and landown­ers were shocked by the 2016 MPAC as­sess­ments that saw farm­land val­ues in­crease by an av­er­age 65 per cent over a four-year pe­riod,” he wrote.

“Farm­ers had al­ready dealt with sim­i­lar in­creases in the pre­vi­ous round of MPAC as­sess­ments in 2012. These in­creases in farm­land val­ues, cou­pled with sig­nif­i­cantly lower res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial clas­si­fi­ca­tion in­creases will lead to farm­ers shoul­der­ing an as­ton­ish­ingly higher por­tion of lo­cal prop­erty taxes un­til ac­tion is taken at the county level.”

The as­sessed val­ues set in 2016 are phased in equally over a fouryear pe­riod. As as­sess­ment val­ues go up, prop­erty tax bills rise un­less spe­cific ac­tion is taken to ad­just the prop­erty tax for­mula. The for­mula pro­vides that farm­land prop­erty taxes are set at an amount up to 25 per cent of the res­i­den­tial prop­erty rate.

“The sharp in­crease in farm­land val­ues and re­sult­ing tax in­creases mean farm­ers will be pay­ing more prop­erty tax than ever be­fore, while con­sum­ing the same level of ser­vices as they al­ways have,” said Davis.

“If farm tax bills con­tinue to in­crease, farm­ers will be shoul­der­ing ex­ces­sive prop­erty tax bur­dens.”

Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties across the prov­ince are al­ready start­ing their 2018 bud­get dis­cus­sions.

“Now is the time,” he says, “for all county and re­gional fed­er­a­tions to work with their county mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to ad­just the farm tax ra­tio in their ar­eas ac­cord­ingly.”

Davis’ full com­men­tary is avail­able on the fed­er­a­tion’s web­site at www.ofa.on.ca. Click on: “The farm prop­erty tax co­nun­drum.” A video is also avail­able on the same page.

The Eco­log­i­cal Farm­ers of On­tario are of­fer­ing a we­bi­nar on how to be a farmer-re­searcher.

“Think­ing of test­ing some­thing new on your farm? Re­search may be the right tool for you,” says the as­so­ci­a­tion.

Its we­bi­nar will go over the process for how to for­mu­late a re­search trial for your farm. Use EFAO’s farmer-led re­search ap­pli­ca­tion form as a guide­line for what think about in plan­ning a trial.

The ap­pli­ca­tion form is at: efao. ca/ap­pli­ca­tion-form.

Any­one in­ter­ested in ap­ply­ing will re­ceive an email the week of the we­bi­nar with log-in de­tails for the Zoom we­bi­nar plat­form. In­struc­tions for how to check com­pat­i­bil­ity with Zoom be­fore the event are at:

https://sup­port.zoom.us/hc/en-us/ar­ti­cles/115002262083How-Do-I-Test-Prior-to-Joininga-Meet­ing.

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