A recent high court ruling will impact Highland County farms with grain bins through less taxation, but exactly how it will get worked out is yet to be determined.
The Ohio Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that nonpermanent grain storage bins are personal property and are not to be taxed as real property, as they have been in some Ohio counties, according to Ohio Farm Bureau Director of Agricultural Law Leah Curtis.
According to Highland County Auditor Bill Fawley, Highland County has been one of those counties.
Fawley said, though, that it’s not as simple as the Supreme Court’s decision makes it appear.
One reason is that the decision was the result of a case involving a commercial property, Fawley said. Another reason is that “there are a lot of other things to consider,” he said, concerning the grain storage bins, such as whether they have a frame within them, or if the concrete bases of the moveable, corrugated metal grain storage bins constitute real property.
It’s complicated, but, “It’s getting worked out,” he said.
“There have been a lot of discussions about how we’re going to deal with it,” Fawley said, and “sooner or later, these grain bins are going to come off” the real property taxes.
Fawley said Monday that his office, as well as other county auditors, are working with the department of taxation to figure out something “fair and uniform” prior to the next round of tax bills going out in January.
The high court’s decision was a product of a case that got started in 2010 when Metamora Elevator opposed the Fulton County auditor’s property values on two of the company’s parcels that included, among other items, corrugated metal grain storage bins.
Since that time, the case made its way to the Ohio Supreme Court, which on July 15 determined that grain storage bins are, by definition according to an Ohio statute amended in 1992, business fixtures that fall under the realm of personal property, and therefore cannot be taxed yearly as real property.
Curtis said it’s similar to when a person buys something at the store and pays a one-time sales tax on that personal property. But on real property, taxes are imposed every year.
The decision mandating that grain storage bins fall under the definition of personal property alleviates that ongoing taxation, she said, which will amount to savings to farms that have them.
How much savings, Curtis said, will depend on how many grain storage bins a farm has and how big they are.
“It’s not going to be huge tax dollars in Highland County,” Fawley said. As an example, he said a particular grain bin in Union Township valued at $1,000 would see a reduction on yearly taxes of $12.59.
While the savings to farms might not be large, according to Curtis, cases like the one involving Metamora Elevator “clarifies the status of taxation for grain bins as personal property” and provides a “more accurate” taxation.
More information can be found on the Ohio Farm Bureau’s website at ofbf.org. The Supreme Court’s decision can be found at supremecourt.ohio.gov.
Questions can be addressed by calling the Highland County auditor’s office at 937-393-1915.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.