For the first time in 20 years, property taxes levied on agricultural land statewide declined year-to-year. Taxes levied in 2018, $1.183 billion, were 1.5 percent or $17.5 million less than that levied in 2017. The decline marks the first time since 1998 that taxes on agricultural land have declined and only the fourth time over the past 38 years (1986, 1987, 1990, & 1998).
Agricultural landowners in 63 counties saw reduced taxes levied. McPherson and Perkins Counties both had declines taxes of over 11 percent (see figure below). Gage County, on the other hand, saw taxes increase 9 percent. Two factors appear to have been responsible for the reduction in taxes: reduced agricultural land values and lower taxes levied by local governments. Values on agricultural land declined in 77 counties and total taxes levied declined in 30 counties.
Taxes levied on agricultural personal property, $45.5 million, were also less in 2018, down 9.5 percent. Agricultural personal property owners paid lower taxes in 86 counties. Gosper, Dakota, and McPherson counties all saw declines of more than 20 percent in taxes levied while Wheeler County saw the largest increase at 9.2 percent followed by Sioux County at 5.6 percent. The reduction in personal property taxes collected on agriculture is a direct reflection of the current state of the farm economy. Farmers and ranchers are reducing spending on machinery and equipment, making do with existing implements. As the equipment ages and depreciation mounts, it reduces the value subject to tax. The total value of agricultural personal property feed by more than 10 percent last year.