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Ag-use middle ground

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KEVIN CROUCH

The Ellis County Press

WAXAHACHIE – Carrie Alexander moved from high-tax Illinois to Ellis County and discovered an unreported loophole could be saving hundreds of taxpayers the snare of agricultural rollback taxes.

Non-agricultural use of land is the "middle ground" between property being designated ag-exempt or homestead and is taxed differently.

What taxpayers like Alexander, a teacher in the Waxahachie school district, have been finding out recently is the way land is sold or improved will have a big effect on what the new buyer will pay.

For example, if Alexander bought land that was originally ag-exempt but only recently changed to homestead (assuming someone built a home on the property), she would be required to pay the past five years’ in what are deemed rollback taxes.

Regardless if a home was built in 2007, Alexander would have been been responsible for paying five years’ worth of property taxes – as if the home had been there for five years.

Alexander said the non-ag use is not specified as much as the other two (ag or homestead), but a little digging could save taxpayers thousands.

The tax assessor-collector – and not the appraisal district, according to Alexander, said it would cost more for fertilizer on ag land than the taxes a non-ag exempt property would be required to pay.

"They need to come up with specific guidelines for the quantity of animals per acre," she said.

John Bridges’ office, she said, made sure the information was well understood, but Alexander said you have to talk to the tax office’s ag land department directly.


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