Property Tax Reform Passes House Unanimously

COLUMBIA–On Thursday, a property tax assessment reform bill introduced by Rep. Rick Martin (R-Newberry) passed the House of Representatives unanimously. The bill passed the Ways and Means Committee favorably on Wednesday before heading to the House floor. H. 3463, designed to protect agricultural property from being taxed at residential, commercial, or industrial rates, passed its second reading by a bipartisan vote of 98-0.

Martin’s bill, introduced in January, would provide that if any property was assessed as agricultural property, farm machinery or equipment for 2016, that property must continue to be taxed at agricultural rates as long as it retains its agricultural use.

“The laws currently on the books give counties the power to define property how they see fit,” Martin said. “What my bill does is secure tax ratios for agricultural property. This way, your property can’t be re-categorized unless it’s sold and/or redeveloped. This shifts the burden of proving change of property use from owners to counties.”

While the bill does not raise nor lower any taxes, counties could expect to see a reduction in local property tax revenues, saving property owners annually. That potential revenue reduction is undetermined.

Martin says he introduced the bill after having been contacted by members of the agricultural community and by citizens from all across the state, and he believes this bill will serve as a remedy to their concerns.

“The best thing we can do for our state’s farmers is to minimize the tax burden that’s placed on them, but also on taxpayers in general,” Martin said. “I am grateful for my colleagues’ support on this bill, and I am confident that this piece of necessary reform will soon become law.”

H. 3463 is co-sponsored by 28 other Representatives from both parties. The bill will proceed for a third reading next week before being sent to the Senate.

Martin represents Newberry County in the South Carolina House of Representatives, and currently serves on the House Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources & Environmental Affairs. He resides in Newberry with his wife, Fran, and their four daughters.