Back in 2008, South Dakota passed an income tax on farmers... sort of. Instead of being honest, fair, and practical and saying to farmers, "We're going to tax you based on how much money you make this year," we created a rinky-dink system where we say to farmers, "We're going to tax you based on how much money we calculate that you could have made, based on soil type, statewide crop yields and prices, livestock prices, and other data packed into an eight-year average where we drop the high year and the low year."
Seriously? It wouldn't be easier to just ask each farmer (and every other South Dakotan) for Line 43 on the 1040 and say, "Send 7% of that to Pierre"?
Anyway, how's that agriculture assessment scheme working? Great... if you like seeing your ag property evaluation go up 20% or more:
Equalization Director Shirley Ebsen said crop land in Lake County will increase 20 percent for 2013 because crop land valuations are more than 30 percent below the values determined by the productivity model.
Noncrop land will increase 25 percent because valuations are more than 50 percent below productivity model valuations.
Ebsen said crop land is currently 30.31 percent below the productivity model; noncrop land is 246.54 percent below the productivity model [Elisa Sand, "Ag Property Values Will Increase 20%," Madison Daily Leader, August 9, 2012].
Ebsen says valuations in Lake County are going up in part because of 11,000 acres of marsh land that didn't use to count for diddly but which the new ag assessment formula says has productivity value. Marsh land. Wow—that sounds perfectly fair... assuming farmers can find a way to turn a profit on cattails and mosquitos. And we wonder why farmers are going bonkers draining every acre they can get their hands on.
The legislation that brought this ag assessment scheme to life was 2008's House Bill 1005. Who sat on the 2007 interim committee that proposed this bill, co-sponsored the bill, voted for it twice in the Legislature, and sat on the 2008 interim advisory task force that finalized the rules for this tax on potential agriculture income?
Why, none other than our current Congresswoman, Kristi Noem.
So farmers, ranchers, ag landholders all, when you get your 20% to 25% higher property assessment this fall, be sure to send a big thank you to the woman who's asking for your vote and asking you to trust her to lower your taxes.