The Missouri House of Representatives recently blocked a proposal to raise property taxes on the most productive farms in the state. The bipartisan vote now moves to the Senate, which has until early March to act on it.
The tax vote stems from a December decision by the State Tax Commission to increase the taxable base of farmland in Missouri. Currently, agricultural property taxes are levied by determining the productive value of individual farms. The higher the productive value, the higher the tax. The tax code divides Missouri farms into eight categories, with Grade 1 being the most productive land, and Grade 8 being the least.
The vote by the State Tax Commission would have raised the productive value on the first four grades, increasing the tax burden on the most profitable farms. The state legislature has until early March to block this proposal, and the overwhelmingly bipartisan support in the House all but guarantees the Senate will join the House in preventing the tax increase.
The proposed tax plan, and its impending defeat, reflects the divided public views on agriculture. Given record high prices, many voters are reluctant to continue supporting farmers and ranchers with farm subsidies, direct farm payments, and generous tax breaks. At the same time, voters and politicians from rural areas are adamant that farmers still need state and federal protection and that guaranteeing the success of the agricultural industry will guarantee the success of the larger economy.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer