Few S.D. ag-land owners asked for adjustments

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A new law was supposed to document the places in South Dakota where rural property owners have requested adjustments on the agricultural income values of their lands because, in their eyes, local conditions made those taxable amounts too high.

That was the theory. As for actual use, there hasn’t been much so far.

The head of South Dakota’s property-tax division said Friday that 25 formal requests have been filed with county directors of equalization.

“That’s the total amount of forms that were submitted this assessment year,” director Lesley Coyle said.

Her comments came during a presentation to the Legislature’s task force on agricultural land assessments.

Coyle showed the new form on the state Department of Revenue website that landowners can use. Each completed form is digitally routed to the director of equalization of the county where the property is.

The new law says the county director must visit the property and consider whether an adjustment should be made. A county director can choose from eight reasons to make adjustments.

The law further states the county director must document all supporting evidence for the adjustment and shall provide any adjustment documentation to the Department of Revenue upon request. The adjustment documentation must be kept in the county director’s office for the life of the adjustment.

One of the panel’s members, Trevor Cramer of Faulkton, asked whether there had been a press release about the new form.

Coyle answered there was a social-media item about it in early August.

An August 6 post on the department’s Twitter account said, “Agricultural Landowners: The application deadline for Ag Land Adjustments for next year’s assessment is coming up on September 1. Follow our link to find out more: http://dor.sd.gov/businesses/taxes/property-tax/agriculture-tax/.”

A check of department news releases came up blank. The law took effect July 1. Governor Kristi Noem signed the legislation into law February 27.

Because counties collect property taxes on a calendar year basis, the deadline was September 1 for landowners to use the forms to request directors to visit properties. The timing allowed directors to apply any adjustments to 2021 assessments for taxes payable in 2022.

Requests made after September 1 are considered for assessments made during the following year.

The task force had proposed the new law. Department officials didn’t testify for it or against it during the Legislature’s two public hearings.

Senator Gary Cammack chairs the task force and was the legislation’s lead sponsor on the Senate side. The Union Center Republican said Friday the intent of the form was to ensure a record of a request and a decision in writing by the county director.

“I look at this as a taxpayer-friendly step,” Cammack said. “I think this has some real promise to do some good.” 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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