The end of a disjointed and sometimes bizarre session of the Indiana General Assembly was marked by several major legislative victories for Indiana Farm Bureau members. Especially significant were the long-sought repeal of Indiana’s inheritance tax and a one-year delay in the use of new soil productivity factors in the assessment of farmland for property tax purposes.
“There were, as there always are, a number of bills and issues that our legislative team at the Statehouse actively worked this session,” said Indiana Farm Bureau President Don Villwock. “But action on the inheritance tax and a delay in the use of the new soil productivity adjustments provide immediate, tangible benefits for all Hoosier farm families.”
Indiana Farm Bureau applauds the passage of Senate Enrolled Act 293, which will phase out Indiana’s inheritance tax over a nine-year period beginning in 2013 and increases from $100,000 to $250,000 the amount that may be inherited by the deceased’s children and their children’s surviving spouses before the inheritance tax is assessed. The increased exemptions will be in effect for the estates of anyone who died on or after Jan. 1, 2012.
“The repeal of Indiana’s inheritance tax has been a long-time policy objective of Indiana Farm Bureau, and this is a major legislative victory,” commented Villwock. “Every farmer dreams of passing his farm down to his son or daughter, and the repeal of the inheritance tax eliminates at least one barrier to that happening.”
In a move that will help keep in check property taxes on farmland, the legislature included in the final version of Senate Enrolled Act 19 language that delays the application of new soil productivity factors announced by the Department of Local Government Finance in early February. These factors, which are used to adjust the base assessed value of farmland to account for the productivity of the soil on a particular parcel, have been consistent for over a quarter century. The new factors would have significantly increased the assessed value of farmland in the state and the property taxes paid on that land. It is estimated that the delay will save Indiana farmers about $57.4 million next year.
Villwock says he’s proud of the work the IFB legislative team did during the session this year, and applauds their efforts on these other issues that will positively impact Indiana agriculture. But his team’s hard work is only part of the formula for success.
“Our members who came to the Statehouse, visited with their elected officials in Indianapolis and back home, who stayed engaged – they made all the difference,” he said. “Their voices and their presence are really the reason for Farm Bureau’s significant legislative victories this year.