Randy Kron: Tax reform essential for future of Indiana agriculture

It’s finally that time of year when temperatures are getting warmer and farmers are in the fields trying to get a crop in the ground. That also means it’s time for property tax statements to hit mailboxes. How closely do you examine your property tax assessment each year?

I challenge you this year to really investigate how much your taxes went up and to which unit of government those increases are being allocated. On your bill, there will be notations on which areas have increased the most. If they increase by more than 27% overall from the previous year, something besides the base value is impacting your bill.

Farmers will experience that 27% increase in their farmland taxes this year after a 16% increase in 2023. Some farmers’ bills are increasing 60 to 70% due to their local school district’s debt obligations.

But this is more than just a farmer problem.

The Indiana State and Local Tax Review Taskforce met on April 17 and heard testimony from House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Lizton. He shared information about farmland tax increases and the elements of the farmland formula that impact the base value. He emphasized how school tax levies have escalated tax bills tremendously.

Chairman Thompson intends to focus on reducing the complexity of the property system, addressing some tax base problems — like farmland values — and closely examining how to effectively and fairly control the growth of tax levies. He has predicted that it will take multiple legislative sessions to accomplish the breadth of tax reforms being discussed.

In the meantime, Indiana Farm Bureau formed its own tax taskforce and is taking a deep dive into what’s impacting a farmer’s tax burden. Many different elements will be reviewed by our internal taskforce, and we’ll continue to work with legislators and other stakeholders to find solutions.

How can you help? Start asking questions and having conversations at the local level with your county assessor or auditor. Talk to your state legislators about your personal stories and how your tax bills have increased. They’ve already started having conversations about legislation for the 2025 session, so we encourage you to have those conversations now so tax issues can be at the forefront.

If you have ideas on how the system can change for the better, reach out to your county Farm Bureau or a member of Indiana Farm Bureau’s public policy team. We’d love to hear from you as we work with the state’s financial leaders in crafting effective tax reform.

We all have a vested interest in easing our tax burden. This is especially true for our farmers and rural communities who are grappling with predictions of lower farm income in 2024. Success in agriculture means greater food security and a stable economy in Indiana, of which the ag industry is a primary driver. Call your legislators and share your stories to help build a foundation for the 2025 legislative session.

Randy Kron is president of Indiana Farm Bureau. Send comments to [email protected].