CAUV can save you on taxes, as long as you follow the rule

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Farm and Dairy file photo

The CAUV is a differential real estate tax assessment program that lets farmland owners have their parcels taxed according to its value in agriculture, rather than full market value. Many of the state’s county auditors’ office throughout Ohio have an “agreement” or MOU (Memorandum Of Understanding) with their local SWCD office to audit these CAUV parcels periodically to ensure the integrity of the program.

A landowner must have at least 10 acres of usable agriculture land, or be able to document a yearly gross income of $2,500 on smaller parcels under ten (10) acres to be enrolled within the program. Other qualifying acreage includes land receiving compensation for certain land retirement or conservation programs under an agreement with the federal government.

Homestead deduction

It is important to remember that if the landowner resides on the property or a residence is being claimed on the property; at least one acre must be deducted for the homestead. A landowner can apply for a newly acquired parcel that is in agriculture after the first of the year, at their local auditor’s office.

Check with your local auditor’s office to ensure when your counties application time frame is. It is important to remember that land must be in agricultural production for at least three years prior to applying for the CAUV tax deduction.

In addition, a landowner is allotted two years of in perpetuity on their land claimed under CAUV. It is the land owner’s responsibility to “upkeep” their CAUV claims. It’s good housekeeping to go over your CAUV claim status with your local auditor’s office to ensure your status is up to date and correct.

Some commonly overlooked tax breaks with the CAUV from progressive landowners are: clearing of timber into crop ground, changing from pasture to crop ground, acquiring adjoining parcels and not enrolling them into the program.

When plans change

In contrast, if you have recently purchased farm ground and are planning to build on it and are not going to continue in agricultural practices (or the acreage currently being claimed shall be less due to construction), be sure to contact your local auditor’s office to have your parcel removed/changed from the CAUV program.

If found in violation of CAUV claims, your local auditor’s office may asses a fine for lack of agricultural practices claimed on the said parcel.

The land use categories that are most utilized are: commodity crops — corn/beans/wheat/oats, hay — baled at least twice a year, permanent pasture — used for commercial animal husbandry, noncommercial woodland; contiguous of ten acres of farmed land, commercial timber, and other crops; nursery stock, vegetables, and flowers.

It is a good idea to keep a record of all of your receipts related to agricultural practices for documentation and to keep a log book of management practices performed on your parcel. This will provide documentation of ongoing efforts for agricultural practices on your property for which you are claiming.

In addition, certain CAUV practices may require documentation proof provided to your county auditor’s office in the future. In the future, your County Auditor’s office may require stricter documentation for practices to qualify for CAUV status.

Some of the more common deductions that must be taken out when configuring your CAUV status are home sites (encompasses the manicured lawns around them), roadways (driveways, well pads, access roads, etc.), and ponds for aesthetic, leisure purposes.

A common misperception is that a landowner cannot claim CUAV status if they are not the ones actually farming the ground. This is false, you the landowner CAN claim CAUV status if your ground is rented out to be farmed.

Documents matter

As a landowner, be sure to fill out the area on your renewal form (if applicable) that inquires if someone other than yourself is farming your ground. Each year, the Ohio Department of Taxation sets current agricultural use values for each of Ohio’s soil types.

The documents developed by the Ohio Department of Taxation to show current CAUVs and explain how these values were established can be found at https://www.tax.ohio.gov/real_property/cauv.aspx.

You can also find forms on your county auditor’s website. The CAUV program is an integral part of the agriculture community. So, it is important to maintain the program’s integrity. Many of our farmers rely on the CAUV tax benefits to be able to continue their agricultural practices.

Some of the local SWCD offices will be out inspecting their county’s CAUV parcels to ensure this program continues and continues with principles. Should you as a landowner, or as an individual farming rented ground have any questions and or concerns related to CAUV enrollment, compliances, claims, or non-enrollment, contact your local auditor’s office.

Thank you, the American Farmer, for being the backbone of our great nation!

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