A recent state audit finds Wisconsin’s use value law for farmland has resulted in other taxpayers covering about $4.7 million in tax liability.
The law is intended to provide a tax break on land used for agricultural purposes, but auditors found over half of the properties claiming the credit across 14 communities are located in areas zoned for something other than farming. Many of those parcels were in residential or commercial developments and are owned by property development companies.
Because of the law, those pieces of land were assessed at about $1.6 million. Without it, the market value on properties not zoned for agriculture would have been about $251 million, which would have been used to lower taxes for other property owners.
State Representative Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), co-chair of the Legislative Audit Committee, says some individuals are taking advantage of an apparent loophole. However, he says use value is important for protecting farmland and lawmakers should consider tweaking the law, rather than doing a complete overhaul.