The Keystone Agricultural Producers says farmland owners are paying an increasing share of education taxes relative to other property owners.
Based on provincial government figures Manitoba farmland and building owners contributed $64 million of the $850 million in education property taxes collected in 2018-19. That’s 7.5 per cent of the total and accounts for the $42 million farmland owners received in education tax rebates of 80 per cent, to a maximum of $5,000.
Averaged over about 10 million cultivated acres there’s about $6.40 an acre in farmland education taxes. But some farmers with higher-value land pay almost $30 an acre. On a 2,000-acre farm, that’s $60,000 a year in education taxes alone.
The shift in the education tax burden to farmers is due to two major factors. First, the province’s contribution to funding K to 12 schooling as a percentage is declining over time, while the municipal (local) share raised by taxing property, rises.
The other is the rapid increase in the assessed value of farmland, which has more than doubled in many parts of Manitoba since 2015. (Property values, along with mill rates, are used to calculate the amount of municipal and education tax property owners pay.)
Many Manitoba farmers were shocked when they opened their tax bills in the fall of 2016. Edgar Scheurer in the RM of Springfield saw his taxes (municipal and education) jump 95 per cent.
A farmer in the Municipality of Emerson-Franklin saw taxes on one quarter section up a whopping 111 per cent to $4,091.52 from $1,934.99.
Farm Credit Canada data showed, on average, the value of Manitoba farmland doubled over the previous four years.
Manitoba farmland values are still going up. This spring the Manitoba government mailed property owners the latest assessed values to be used in calculating 2020 municipal and education tax bills.
The assessment for a quarter section owned by this reporter and a family member in the RM of Lorne was up 12 per cent. Over five years its value went up 136 per cent and since 2013 is up 182 per cent.