MOUNT VERNON — Nobody likes taxes, and a sudden doubling of a tax bill would be expected to cause a hue and cry to be raised. That happened to some agricultural land owners last month, but the response has been subdued.
When Daniel Dean opened the bills for eight parcels of land, three classified as commercial and five as agricultural, he got a shock when he turned to the agricultural ones. The taxes he owed on them had more than doubled.
In one case a 38.6-acre parcel went from $110.34 the second half of 2011 to $266.54 this winter. Another went from $103.22 to $211.67, a third from $241.48 to $545.48, and a fourth from $453.62 to $1,035.94.
The property tax bill for the land that includes his house remained almost unchanged.
Dean anticipates problems from the increase as he doesn’t farm the land himself, but rents it to farmers and they may not want to pay higher prices to rent the land.
“If it had been 10 percent or something I wouldn’t be upset, but you get a 142 percent increase, then something is just not right,” Dean said.
Dean called the auditor’s office for an explanation and he called legislators’ offices to see if anything was being done.
Property taxes on agricultural land are usually calculated based on a formula designed to give owners a break from the rates paid for commercial or residential property.
The program is CAUV, which stands for Current Agricultural Use Values. Knox County Auditor Jonette Curry explained that every three years the Ohio Department of Taxation reassesses values of property in the CAUV program, based on soil types as determined by the Department of Agriculture.
“Every soil type has value per acre, which is calculated on factors such as average annual yield, the market value of crops or commodities produced, interest rates and the cost of production,” she said.
The values are adjusted every three years, she explained, which took place in 2008 and again in 2011. Both times the values of crops produced went up, more so in 2011 than in 2008. That’s in contrast to the previous 20 years, when agricultural land values had hardly changed.
Curry said her office did get some calls when the tax bills were sent out but, she said, they are still paying less than they would if their land was assessed as commercial property because, once the land’s market value is calculated, taxes are calculated based on the rate for that soil type.
Each soil type has a different valuation, and the formula may be a bit more involved than that, but the result is a lower tax bill than commercial property.
Curry said her office tried to head off problems by sending out a letter when the state announced what the new soil values would be. The property owners could then take that information, the amount of their land included in CAUV and use the tax estimator on the auditor’s website to get an idea of what their taxes would be.
Chris Grewe, administrative aide for State Sen. Kris Jordan, R-Delaware, said they had received a couple inquiries about the increase, but “we’re not looking at making any changes.”
However, he added that Jordan’s office is always open to talking to people and if anyone has suggestions to make, “we will be happy to listen to them.”