Press Release from Sen. Tim Barnes, D-Adams, and Rep. Joe Pitts, D-Clarksville, March 18, 2010:
Bill would protect farm land from massive estate tax hikes
NASHVILLE – Sen. Tim Barnes (D-Adams) and Rep. Joe Pitts (D-Clarksville) want to protect farmers from unfair property valuation by sponsoring a bill to limit the effect of exorbitant appraisals.
“I’m hearing from farmers who are in danger of losing family farms because they face high federal estate taxes due to high appraisals,” Barnes said. “We must do all we can to protect our farmers who form the agricultural backbone of our economy.”
The bill (SB3191/HB3448) would make Tennessee farms’ “highest use value” available only for computing state rollback taxes – not for use in values for estate taxes, as the current law interprets. Many farmers are being taxed based on the state’s assessment of the land’s development value, even if the property is impossible to develop or has been restricted to farm use through a will.
Barnes and Pitts sponsored the bill after hearing from Montgomery County farmers who have seen their farm appraisal rates increase more than 700 percent after the most recent reappraisals.
“Sen. Barnes and I were made aware of this problem by Betty Burchett, our Montgomery County Property Assessor, and members of the local Farm Bureau,” Rep. Pitts said. “This proposal hopefully will make her job easier by putting farmers’ minds at ease.”
The legislation passed in the Senate State and Local Government Committee on Wednesday. The House version is scheduled for a subcommittee hearing next week.