(Indianapolis, IN) - Farmers in Indiana have just a few days left to appeal their new property tax assessments if they feel the numbers-driven up by inflation are too high.
Indiana Farm Bureau encourages farmers who haven't looked at their property tax assessment notices to glance at the figures and file an appeal with their county assessor if there is a dramatic rise in their assessed property value.
The deadline to appeal is June 15.
Katrina Hall, INFB Senior Director of Policy, Strategy, and Advocacy, said many farmers often ignore their property tax assessment notices because there's usually no significant disparity from the previous year's numbers.
However, she said cost tables used by county assessors statewide to calculate property values have gone up 16-percent from the last time they were updated four years ago.
Hall said the numbers in the formula were increased to reflect skyrocketing prices in the housing market, higher land values, and rising costs for the labor and materials needed to build or replace a house, barn, grain bin, or some other structure.
"The main message is open your notice. Don't ignore it," Hall said.
Farmers should appeal their assessed property values if their figures are more than 16-percent higher than last year. This is because assessments are not always consistent, and differences under the revised formula emerge in some counties, Hall explained.
Some property owners have reported increases of 30-percent or more. Therefore, all farmers are advised to investigate their current assessments even if they believe the change in figures was reasonable.
Hall said farmers could go directly to their county assessor's office for the information used to calculate their new assessments. She said most counties also make online the data used for determining assessments in property record cards containing information like structure measurements, acreage, and lot size.
"They may be able to come to some sort of an informal agreement on corrections that could be made," Hall said.
Hall said higher assessed property values don't necessarily mean an increase in property taxes because local government units in the state are capped on how much additional money can be brought in from year to year.
Property tax rates often go down when assessments go up to keep municipalities' revenue within the boundaries. Hall said an assessment notice strictly informs a property owner about the numbers used to calculate their property tax bills for 2023.
She said future assessments on farmland would eventually go up again to reflect the recent jump in commodity prices. The land is considered more valuable when the amount of money brought in from it goes up, even if the cost of production rises like it is now.
"It's just a matter of time before that feeds into our farmland tax formula," she said.
In contrast, Hall said assessed values on farmland went down when the price of corn, soybeans, and other commodities noticeably dropped several years ago.
The prices remained low until they began a rapid recovery in 2020. Hall said she couldn't remember a time when the updated formula for figuring property values went up so dramatically.
"This is different from other years because we're catching up for the housing market's inflationary aspects and the cost of building materials and construction labor," Hall said. "Will prices come back down? I don't have a crystal ball."