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Rest of the story on tax commission ruling

Mess with assessments for property tax and landowner attention perks up. Well, make that if the rate is raised, attention perks up.

If values are cut, you might not hear a peep.

That scenario plays out after a recent ruling by the Missouri State Tax Commission. By state law, the three-member commission must study valuations every other year. Any needed changes in values would go into effect one year later — if the Missouri General Assembly doesn’t overrule them.

The commission announced in December higher valuations — by 29% — on the top four grades of land, the best cropland.

Reaction to that ruling was vocal and immediate.

What wasn’t mentioned by protesters was that values were cut 25% on poorer land — the grassland.

The Commission was formed to base assessments on “agricultural-use values.” This reform attempt brings fairness on tax rates to guide county assessors.

The commission was set up outside the Missouri Legislature to reduce political influence. Still, legislators get the final say.

The Legislature accepted the previous five commission reports. However, those had no changes to assessed values. In 2010, resolutions have been filed to reject these changes.

Backgrounder

The law says the commissioners must ask the University of Missouri to analyze agricultural land values. That assignment for an impartial report goes to the MU Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, or FAPRI. Economist Scott Brown makes that analysis.

A new FAPRI model created for the job looks at the average return per acre in each of the seven land classes.

The rarest has the highest crop return per acre. Class I is level land in bottoms along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, with under 1% of Missouri land qualifying.

Classes 2, 3 and 4 grow most crops.

This article published in the February, 2010 edition of MISSOURI RURALIST.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2010.