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Senate OKs Sen. Barnes’ Bill Protecting Farmers From Unfair Taxation

Press Release from Sen. Tim Barnes, D-Adams, and Rep. Joe Pitts, D-Clarksville, March 24, 2010:

Bill would protect farm land from massive estate tax hikes

NASHVILLE – The state Senate passed Wednesday 31-0 a bill by Sen. Tim Barnes (D-Adams) and Rep. Joe Pitts (D-Clarksville) to protect farmers from unfair property valuation by sponsoring a bill to limit the effect of exorbitant appraisals.

“I’m pleased to say we’re closer to protecting our farmers from losing their family farms because of unfair federal estate taxes,” Barnes said. “Farmers deserve our assistance for all that they do to feed Tennessee families and support Tennessee’s 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.

The House version of the bill passed in a subcommittee Wednesday and will go to the House State and Local Committee.

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