POP: Taxation and Assessment Policies on Flooded Agriculture Land
Res #: POP 4-16A
Responses Received: Yes
Departments: Saskatchewan Ministry of Government Relations
WHEREAS the Quill Lakes and similar watersheds in the province have experienced extensive flooding in recent years; and
WHEREAS producers are stilled required to pay taxes and lease fees on flooded agricultural land from which they have no ability to generate any income.
BE IT RESOLVED that SARM lobby the provincial government to review their taxation and fee assessment policies for agriculture land taken out of production by large scale flooding
Responses From: The Ministry of Government Relations
May 25, 2016
- The Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency (SAMA) has advised the ministry that from a property assessment perspective, in cases where extensive flooding occurs, like in the Quill Lakes, the RM can place any affected properties on the annual maintenance list.
- Once the maintenance list is submitted to SAMA, it will review the physical attributes of the affected properties to ascertain the extent of the damage to the property due to the flooding.
- In cases of extensive/permanent flooding of what was previously usable farmland, the affected area would be rated as waste ($10 per acre assessment). Lands that have partial flooding with potential to be farmed in a year or so would receive a flooding deduction based upon the extent of flooding. This would tend to apply when the flooding starts to recede.
- If the property owner does not agree with the revised assessment and feels it is not reasonable, they can appeal the valuation to the local Board of Revision for further review.
- From SAMA's perspective, we are advised they would much prefer working with the property owner and municipality via the annual maintenance route versus handling the situation through property appeals. This is a proactive solution that addresses the issue for all property owners and not just those that have appealed.
- The ministry has referred this assessment policy issue to SA.MA, asking them to review their assessment practices and manual to determine if there is a better approach to assessment of land underwater long-term, rather than being assessed and taxed as waste land.
- The RM has a further role to play in terms of its ability to provide tax relief for these unforeseen circumstances. For instance, the RM could abate the taxes until such time that SAMA can revisit the property and determine the new property assessed value. Section 274 of The Municipalities Act sets out several situations in which property taxes may be cancelled or refunded.
Ministry of Agriculture
- Ministry of Government Relations officials also consulted with the Ministry of Agriculture on this resolution response. The Ministry of Agriculture provided the following response:
- When clients advise the Ministry of Agriculture's Lands Branch that lease lands are flooded, the ministry adjusts the rental acres as appropriate, such that no rental is charged on the flooded area for that particular year.
- Where lands have had flooding for multiple years, an "Amended Flooded Acres (AFA)" reservation is associated with the land. Clients with an AFA designation receive a notice annually from Lands Branch to request a report of any flooded acres on the designated lease land. The ministry then makes the appropriate adjustment to rental for the year.
- Upon inspection, if it is determined the lands will be under water for the long term, the lease will be amended and the flooded acres change to "waste" which receives no rental charge.
- Some lands, particularly in the Quill Lakes area, which have been under water for many years, the lessees have surrendered their leases, and these lands remain vacant.
- Agricultural Crown land lessees are responsible for paying the taxes on the land.
Jim Reiter – Minister of Government Relations