COLUMBUS – Ohio landowners could avoid soaring property tax increases thanks to efforts by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF). This week both the House and Senate introduced bills that encompass Ohio Farm Bureau’s suggested changes to the Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV) formula that would result in more accurate valuations for landowners. Because no administrative action has been taken on its proposed CAUV changes, Ohio Farm Bureau began pursuing legislative changes.
Rep. Brian Hill, R-Zanesville, is the sponsor of House Bill 398, and Sen. Cliff Hite, R-Findlay, is the sponsor of Senate Bill 246.
“We appreciate Representative Hill’s and Senator Hite’s leadership in sponsoring these bills, which will improve the accuracy of the CAUV formula and mitigate the size of tax increases,” said OFBF Executive Vice President John C. (Jack) Fisher.
Ohio Farm Bureau has done an extensive study of the CAUV program and identified adjustments to the formula that will provide fairness and accuracy while protecting the integrity of the program.
Both bills would enact Ohio Farm Bureau’s suggested CAUV changes. The organization is challenging two inaccurate assumptions in the CAUV formula’s capitalization rate: that land is a short-term investment and that it becomes more valuable as its mortgage is paid down.
The two bills would prohibit certain non-agricultural factors from being used in the CAUV formula and remove disincentives for farmers to engage in certain conservation practices.
The current CAUV formula assumes land is held for only five years when in reality farmland is typically held for decades and across multiple generations. Currently, there are non-use factors in the formula that inflate farmland value by assuming land appreciates and landowners achieve equity buildup at predetermined rates. But these have nothing to do with the agricultural use of the land. In both bills, the use of equity buildup and appreciation factors would be prohibited.
Also in the bills are stipulations that CAUV land used for a conservation practice or enrolled in a federal land retirement or conservation program for at least three years be valued at the lowest of the values assigned on the basis of soil type. This requirement would encourage practices that protect the environment and water quality. Currently, farmers are discouraged from idling land because it is taxed as though it is producing crops. Farm Bureau believes taxing conservation lands at the CAUV minimum value is appropriate because conservation lands are non-producing.
This is Ohio Farm Bureau’s second set of recommended changes to the CAUV program. The Ohio Department of Taxation enacted Ohio Farm Bureau’s first round of suggested changes: to more closely tie tax values to current economic conditions in agriculture; include more recent data on crop mix, prices, yields and production costs; and better represent the true value of woodlands compared to cropland. Those changes affect taxes paid in 2016 for counties going through a reassessment this year.