By Gary Joiner
Taxes are on the minds of many Texans right now. “Tax Day” is April 15. It’s the deadline to file a federal individual tax return or request a filing extension.
Texas landowners are also thinking about property taxes this time of year. Many are completing applications and forms in advance of an important May 1 deadline. It’s the day farmers and ranchers must have filed paperwork with their local appraisal district to qualify for a special property valuation.
Two amendments to the Texas Constitution permit agricultural and open-space land to be taxed generally on its agricultural use, or productivity value. This means that taxes are assessed against the productive value of the land, instead of the selling price of the land in the open market.
This special tax consideration is critical. In fact, it may be the single greatest public policy decision Texas has ever made to benefit the state’s agricultural community. The valuation allows Texas farmers and ranchers and their families to remain on the land. Without it, many could simply not afford the property taxes that would result. Farms would stop farming. Ranches would stop ranching. And precious wildlife habitat and resources could no longer be managed effectively on private land.
Taxes are never enjoyable, but, at least, in regards to property taxes, Texas farmers and ranchers have a valuable tool that allows them to do what they do best.