A farmer in Canada is urging his fellow landowners to resist paying tax increases that are eating into farm profits.
Edgar Scheurer, who is facing a 95% rise in his tax bill for the Rural Municipality of Springfield, has urged fellow farmers not to pay, but is finding it hard to generate support among landowners. He told local newspaper the Manito Cooperator, “It’s sad how we just take it. If this were happening in France you know what would be happening — farmers would be in the streets protesting.”
Bill Toews also got a shock when he opened his 2016 tax bill. “I swallowed hard and wondered what was going on,” said Lowe, who added, “I was shocked at the amount of increase, and not just in the education tax, but in municipal tax as well.”
Harold Penner saw his tax bill increase from $1,934.99 to $4,091.52 . He said, “The enormous increase is indeed a huge burden to farmers, especially young farmers trying to get their feet on the ground managing a huge debt load.”
On average, the tax burden on farmers has doubled, with much of this blamed on education tax, which farmers say is being disproportionately levied on them. Penner added, “It’s also hard to understand that society demands that farmers bear such a high percentage of the burden of education in this province. Why is that? Is education not something that everyone should be paying for?”
The increase in taxes is partly a result of an increase in land values, which in some parts of Manitoba have quadrupled. Chief Operating Officer Tracey French admitted: “It’s a real issue and we hope the provincial government is looking at it,” she said.
One solution which it is hoped would allay the problem would be to reduce the portion percentage of the tax burden, so that it falls evenly across landowners and urban dwellers. Normally taxation calculations are evenly based, but the sudden skyrocketing of land values has shifted the burden onto farmers. The problem is that land values have not risen universally and any broad adjustment would inevitably affect somebody unfairly.
Dan Mazier, President of Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAC), said: “There is a fundamental flaw. I don’t know what other business in the world that could withstand these 50 and 90 per cent raises in taxes. Could you imagine if this had happened to houses? This wouldn’t happen that way. What it does is basically destabilize our agriculture industry because land is the foundation of the whole industry.”