Farm equipment, developments soon may be eligible for property tax abatement | Jobs and Employment

Local governments in Northwest Indiana, and across the Hoosier State, are used to doling out property tax abatement as an incentive to locate a factory or similar major development that will create jobs and increase local incomes.

Soon, new agricultural equipment and facilities may be eligible for a similar tax exemption under legislation sponsored by four Region lawmakers.

The Indiana House voted 76-16 Tuesday in favor of Senate Enrolled Act 119. It previously passed the Senate, 47-0, and is expected to be signed into law by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.

The measure authorizes counties, cities or towns to designate agricultural zones as Economic Revitalization Areas (ERA) on the same basis as currently permitted for outdated business districts or distressed residential neighborhoods.

Under the plan, new farm equipment or new agricultural improvements located in an ERA would be eligible for a property tax abatement for up to five years. The exemption would not apply to farm land.

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State Rep. Hal Slager, R-Schererville, the House sponsor, said that the legislation will give local governments a needed tool to incentivize the purchase of new agricultural equipment but that each abatement still must be awarded on a case-by-case basis.

Slager said he and state Sen. Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell, the Senate sponsor, worked closely with the Indiana Farm Bureau on the plan to treat significant investments in agricultural equipment the same as other major manufacturing equipment purchases and developments.

“The cost of equipment is so much higher, and it’s costing so much more money to do business,” Niemeyer said. “If they’re creating jobs, creating something there with their farm, that can be abated.”

The measure also exempts nonresidential portions of agricultural land from neighborhood “trending” factors used to annually adjust the assessed value of residential, commercial and industrial properties.

In addition to Slager and Niemeyer, the legislation is sponsored by state Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, and state Rep. Mike Aylesworth, R-Hebron.