The following is a letter written by an tax accountant who works primarily with farmers. He/She does not to have his/her name released.
OPEN LETTER TO:
Govenor Andrew Cuomo, State Senators Tom O’Mara and Michael Nozzolio, State Assemblymen Robert C. Oaks, Brian M. Colb and Philip Palmesano, and all other NY State Senators and Assemblymen.
Dear Sirs (and a few Madams)
YOU HAVE AGAIN PASSED LAWS THAT ARE SURE TO RAISE PROPERTY TAXES YET SOME MORE ON ORDINARY TAX PAYERS, ESPECIALLY IN RURAL DISTRICTS, WHERE FARMS ARE A LARGE PART OF THE TAX BASE, AND LOWERING THEM ON WELL TO DO FARMERS.
YOU HAVE AGAIN LISTENED TO THE POWERFUL FARM BUREAU LOBBYING UNION, AND NEGLECTED THE ORDINARY PEOPLE THAT ELECTED YOU, BY, FOR ALL PRACTICAL PURPOSES, FREEZING THE PROPERTY AND SCHOOL TAXES ON FARMS AT THE PRICE OF FARM LAND AS IT WAS SOME TIME IN THE 1960’S OR ROUGHLY AT ONE SEVENTH OF WHAT THE REAL MARKET VALUE IS TODAY.
Applying the new max 2% cap on farm tax assessment value for 100 years would still not bring the taxable value of farm land up to the market price as it is today. The old 10 % cap was really already less than 2% measured on market value, and the new 2% cap is really only about ¼ of one percent.
Do you simply not understand that freezing the tax for one group of property owners automatically make the rest pay for not only their own portion of County, town and school budget increases, but also for the portion of those increases the farmers should have covered??? OR DO YOU SIMPLY NOT CARE ABOUT REGULAR PEOPLE??? I don’t really know what is worse.
I can understand republicans doing such things, because for 30 years I have observed that they seem to get an orgasm out of taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich, doing it outright or giving itsy bitsy income tax breaks to ordinary people and mega tax breaks to rich people! With the result that income inequality is now one of the worst in the world. But why would a democratic Governor sign such laws???
Most farmers are not the poor people in this state, ordinary people with $12/hour, $20,000 per year jobs trying to pay more than $3000 in property and school taxes are. I know farm taxes , so I know. The 500/1000 cow mega farms certainly do not need your help, and most Mennonite farmers don’t need it, and don’t even vote. Do you not understand that farmers always, always, always complain? If you gave a farmer 1 million dollars one day, he would complain and want something else the next day! I can with certainty predict that the next thing Farm Bureau will try to get is exemptions on farm buildings also (they already get a 10 year exemption on buildings and lifetime exemption on silos. Also, do you not understand that the farm exemptions and NY State refunding all the school tax paid on farm assets when filing their income tax return, BASICALLY DO NOT HELP, ESPECIALLY YOUNG FARMERS, ONE BIT! The close to none existing property taxes is figured into what the price on farm land is. Economists, and I am one, call it capitalization of an expected benefit. It really means that most of the benefits of lowering farm property taxes accrue to the retiring farmer, like he gets $100,000 more for his 100 acre farm. I resent that a lot of my almost $10,000 property taxes on a pretty ordinary house goes for farmers retirement. Since his extra gain is not taxed on a county level, all that happened was just a higher tax for me, and the young farmer pays as much in extra mortgage payments as the extra tax would have been. So if the State insist on doling out such tax breaks that makes my taxes higher I think the State needs to reimburse the County for the costs of doing so.
Have you never wondered how farmers can afford to pay $5,000 per acre now v.s. more like $800 per acre when the farm exemption was started about 40 years ago, but they claim they can not afford to pay tax? When the farm exemption program was started a profitability formula was supposed to guide the farm exemption amount. For maybe 30 years it basically did not change, which meant that farm taxes actually went down, because the per thousand rate some times went down because home values went up by a higher percentage than the annual county budget percentage increases. But now that the formula shows that farming is way more profitable, the Greedy Farm Bureau will not hold their end of the bargain, after we greatly supported them for 30 years, it is just wrong, and stupid all around.
So let us reiterate what benefits the State gives the farmers, or dictate that the Towns/Counties/schools give the farmers:
1) Lowers the property and school taxes to a very small fraction of what it would be based on market value, and is now practically frozen at that very low level.
2) NY State pays back to farmers almost all the school taxes paid by farmers with less than 350 acres, and half on acres above 350 A
3) Farmers never pay property tax on silos and they get an automatic 10 year free of taxes on new farm buildings.
4) Farmers pay no sales taxes on any items or buildings used in farming (another lost revenue for Counties)
WHEN IS ENOUGH ENOUGH??????????
NEXT TIME MR. PALMESANO’S , OR ANY OF THE REST OF YOUR PICTURE ARE IN THE PAPER BECAUSE FARM BUREAU HAS NAMED YOU ONE OF THEIR BEST FRIENDS, I WILL DO MY UTMOST TO INFORM THE REST OF YOUR VOTERS THAT THEIR TAXES ARE LIKELY SET TO GO UP BECAUSE YOU GAVE “THE FAR AWAY” TO PEOPLE THAT MOSTLY DO NOT NEED IT.
There probably are farms in marginal valleys and on poor mountain tops that could need help, but then find a way to help them that does not further enrich the farmers that do not need your help, at the huge cost of the rest of us property tax payers.
I am really not against farmers, I just think enough is enough and fair is fair. And right now it is not fair for a lot of people.
On a side note:
Larger farmers always complain they can’t get farm workers. We live in a capitalist society where everything is governed by supply and demand. If you can’t get enough supply of something, you have to pay more for it! So the farmers are obviously not paying enough to their workers! I think if they tried $30 an hour and health insurance and other benefits they would probably get workers. Where does it say that hard physical labor should pay less than for someone sitting in an office or for someone being a State assembly man or State senator? I think we should lower your pay to minimum wage and pay farm workers your salary. Of course I also think Republicans believe there should be a lower class they can easily control. You will say farmers can not pay such wages because they compete against imports! That is currently true, but that really means we have a trade policy problem, not a labor problem.
- New York caps farm assessments (pressrepublican.com)