Guest comment: Farmer’s getting a break on property assessment

Starting in 2013, existing property tax exemptions will be higher on outbuildings like barns, silos, and other improvements.

This province has a rich agricultural history, and we want to make sure our farmers have the support they need to prosper well into the future in a challenging and competitive industry that requires long hours and huge investments in infrastructure and land.

We depend on our agricultural products for domestic use and consumption, as well as export revenues, and need to do everything we can to keep farmers on the land. For my ministry, that has meant taking a second look at farm property assessments.

In 2008, our government appointed the Farm Assessment Review Panel to examine our farm property assessment practices. Since then, new rules have been implemented, clarifying the split classification of Agriculture Land Reserve (ALR) and non-ALR farm properties. What this means is that a number of farmers, particularly those on smaller properties in rural-urban areas with high land values, will see significantly lower property taxes than they had prior to the changes.

As a result of the most recent legislative and regulatory amendments, based on recommendations from the Farm Assessment Review Panel, farmers will also benefit from four more property assessment changes. Generally speaking, these changes will ensure farmers pay lower property taxes and are able to maintain or grow their business and enjoy the fruits of their labour once they retire. Providing relief for farm property tax by reviewing farm assessment policies also fulfils a commitment from ourgovernment’s recently released agrifoods strategy, part of the BC Jobs Plan.

Intensive operations such as dairy, poultry, mushroom farms and greenhouses can require capital investments of several million dollars.

Starting in 2013, existing property tax exemptions will be higher on outbuildings like barns, silos, and other improvements. The exemptions will be the higher of either 87.5 per cent of the total assessed value of all farm improvements or $50,000, which is the current maximum. This will encourage the growth and expansion of operations throughout the province by allowing farmers to make improvements or add to their infrastructure without having to pay more taxes.

And we have good news for farmers with farm dwellings in the ALR who want to retire from active operation. Retired long-term farmers and their spouses who want to stay on the homestead can apply annually to have their residences taxed as farm dwellings as long as the farm remains productive. For some, this could translate into the difference between having to find a new home and being able to stay on the land they have worked for decades.

We also want to make sure our farmers and ranchers can focus on what they do best – producing fruits, vegetables, grains, meats and dairy products and raising livestock – without having to focus too heavily on paperwork.

Farm income reporting periods will now be aligned with farmers’ Canada Revenue Agency income tax reporting periods, reducing paperwork and stress. There will be special reporting periods to deal with new farms, new owners of properties already classified as farms, or developing farms, which do not have a two-to-three-year history of production by the owner.

In addition, we are providing farmers with more production opportunities to achieve and maintain farm status, which usually reduces the taxes they pay for their properties. Right now, a farm of two to 10 acres must generate $2,500 in gross sales from qualifying products produced on the property to gain farm status. For smaller operations in particular, this can be a challenge. So we have expanded the number of qualifying agricultural products to include birch and maple sap and syrup products, breeding products produced as part of a livestock operation and horse stud services provided as part of a horse rearing operation.

All of these changes recognize the meaningful contributions farmers and ranchers make to B.C. – contributions to our economy, our sustenance and our sustainability that make this province such a unique and attractive place to invest and raise families.

Ida Chong

 

Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development

 

 

Just Posted

UPDATE: Tsunami warning ended for Greater Victoria

Homes in Colwood near Esquimalt Lagoon were evacuated after tsunami warning for coastal areas of B.C. after 7.9 earthquake off Alaskan coast

Greater Victoria under another wind warning this morning

Strong southeast winds will reach speeds of up to 80 km/h in Greater Victoria

UPDATE: Tsunami warning cancelled for coastal British Columbia

Warning issued following 7.9 earthquake off Kodiak, AK

Tsunami warning issued for Coastal B.C.

It is recommended that individuals residing below 20 metres should move to higher ground.

Federal, provincial ministers in Victoria to announce clean tech funding

Collaboration will invest $785,000 into start-ups, including Victoria-based Alacrity Canada

Testing the Google Arts & Culture app

Going face to face with art

Man faces 48 charges in string of random Toronto shootings

The string of unprovoked shootings began Jan.9, say police

‘Shape of Water’ producer, Christopher Plummer among Canadian Oscar nominees

Guillermo del Toro film about merman romance earns 13 nominations

Canada, TPP agrees to revised deal without the United States

Canada and the remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership have agreed to a revised trade agreement

Tsunami warnings 101: Canada

Here are some things to know about tsunami alerts in Canada and how they work

Rogers Media cuts ties with Vice Canada

Rogers Media and Vice Canada are ending their three-year-old partnership, pulling Viceland TV channel off the air

Tsunami warning prompts evacuations in Port Alberni

Alaska earthquake prompted warning for coastal BC

VIDEO: Fuel truck and train collide in B.C. causing massive fire

More emergency crews are still arriving on scene of a massive fire at the Port Coquitlam rail yard.

Most Read