Farm Land Education Tax Rebate Program

Res #: 21-01M
Number: 21
Year: 2001
Midterm: Yes
Expired: Yes
Responses Received: No

Resolution No. 21-01M

WHEREAS, the Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food Farm Land Property Tax Rebate, being a 25% Rebate Program on education property tax paid, is now in its second but final year; and

WHEREAS, the rural municipal offices have been required to disburse the application forms to their ratepayers on behalf of the Provincial Government; and

WHEREAS, in many cases, the Rural Municipal Administrators have been asked for assistance in completion of the Tax Rebate application forms, including requests for photocopies of tax notices and/or tax receipts, as well as being contacted numerous times from the employees of the Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food Farm Tax Rebate Program for copies of tax notices and/or tax receipts to be faxed, and/or for clarification or assistance for completion of applications; and

WHEREAS, it has become the financial responsibility of the Rural Municipalities to assume the extra associated costs of administration of the Farm Land Property Tax Rebate;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that if the Farm Land Education Tax Rebate be offered in future years, that the Minister of Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food revise the Farm Land Education Tax Rebate Program so that the rebate may be taken off at the rural municipal office at the time of payment of taxes, or that the Provincial Government reimburse the RM offices for extra administrative costs arising from the Farm Land Education Tax Rebate Program.

Response from the Honourable Clay Serby, Minister of Agriculture and Food:

The government recognizes that property taxes are an important input cost and has taken action to mitigate the impact of reassessment on agricultural land. The percentage of value for rangeland was set at 50 per cent. In addition, increased funding for the Foundation Operating Grant has resulted in the largest annual increase in provincial government grants to schools in fifteen years. The government will continue to explore options to address farm income and taxation issues within the province.

We have also allocated $50 million for the Farm Land Property Tax Rebate Program (FLPTRP) for the years 2000 and 2001. The FLPTRP provides a rebate of 25 per cent on the education tax, not a flat rate. If the education portion of property taxes increases, the rebate will rise proportionally. Farmers will receive a rebate of 25 per cent on the re-assessed amount. The application deadline for both program years is February 15, 2002. At this time, there has been no decision to extend the program, but it will be taken into consideration during the 2002-03 budget development process.

The home quarter deduction was put in place in recognition that other property owners pay education tax on their lot and home, and buildings used for business. The intent was that owners of farm land would pay the full education tax on a home quarter or equivalent to provide a level of equity between farmers and other property owners. With respect to the administration of the program, when the rebate program was first announced, options for local delivery were considered. However, given that many landowners own land in more than one municipality and that rural municipalities do not have access to information in other municipalities necessary to verify applications, it was more appropriate to maintain a central administration. The computer systems and audit processes to administer the home quarter deductions are now in place and it is our view the current administrative processes are providing for the timely and cost effective delivery of the program in 2001.

SAF appreciates the cooperation from RM offices over the past year. While RM administrators are no expected to administer this program, we are aware that administrators do offer assistance and advice that is most valuable to their ratepayers.