Farmers hit with surprise surge in Manitoba land taxes
Tax bills up by as much as 90 per cent, says Keystone Agricultural Producers
Manitoba farmers say they've been dealt an unfair blow this tax year. Many producers in the province are facing much higher bills than last year, said Keystone Agricultural Producers president Dan Mazier.
Land tax bills are typically mailed out to farms in September and October and vary in rate depending on the municipality.
Some farmers in Manitoba are facing tax bills up to 90 per cent higher than last year, said Mazier.
"Imagine if your housing tax went up by that much," he said. "There'd be mayhem in the streets."
Agricultural land in the province has increased in value markedly in the last few years, which is partly to blame for the surge in land taxes.
"It's all because farmland has shot up so much in value," said Shawn McCutcheon, a farmer in the RM of Dufferin.
McCutcheon, who is facing a land tax bill that's 40 per cent higher than last year, said along with the higher land tax bill, school taxes and municipal taxes are on the rise in rural Manitoba as well.
"Everybody's concerned. When you see that type of increase to an expense, it's not an insignificant number to a farmer," he said.
McCutcheon and Mazier argue land taxes should be re-examined by the province. One flaw is the levy doesn't take into account a farmer's ability to pay for their taxes, said Mazier, it's simply based on the land value.
Other businesses can pass on additional taxes to consumers in ways producers cannot, he added.
"Farmers can't do that. Agriculture in general can't do that," said Mazier.
McCutcheon is calling for a "rebalancing" when it comes to tax revenues in rural Manitoba.
Many farmers owe up to $20,000 in school taxes because of the size of farms today, he said.
"Nobody wants to pay any more taxes than they have to. I think most people are reasonable enough to be saying we should be paying for what we're getting," said McCutcheon.
"Farmland in the RM of Dufferin used to pay between 48 and 55 per cent of the total revenue. In this last budget year, agricultural land paid 64 per cent of the budget," said McCutcheon.
"The easiest way to address it is to look at the portion assessment and rebalance things."
If the burden placed on farms to pay for local services isn't 'rebalanced,' he warned, it could cause tension in rural communities.
"You don't want things that create friction within the community and when there's an overburden on taxes on one sector that has the ability to do that."
with files from Susan Magas