The Appropriations Committee documents include this table of total property values in South Dakota from 2011 through 2016 (payable 2012 through 2017).
In 2011, in the second year of our using the potential productivity model to assess agricultural land, 35.0% of taxable property value came from agricultural land, 39.5% from residential property, and 25.5% from commercial property. In 2016, ag’s percentage of total value had risen to 45.5%, while residential’s share is down to 33.2% and commercial’s to 21.3%.
Looked at another way, over the last five years, the taxable value of residential and commercial land has risen 25% while the taxable value of ag land has risen 93%.
Of course, when we apply the tax levies of Senate Bill 35, we tax residential property at 2.2 times the rate we tax agricultural land, and we tax commercial land at 4.6 times the ag rate. Multiply those levies by valuations, and we find commercial property bearing 45.2% of the K-12 burden, residential 34.0%, and ag 20.8%.
In 2012, if I’m reading the levies correctly from that year’s SB 49, those levy × valuation burdens would have been 47.8% commercial, 34.6% residential, and 17.7% agricultural. In five years, we’ve slid 2.6 percentage points of K-12 tax burden off commercial property owners and 0.6 percentage points off homeowners and slid them onto ag land owners.
Play with those numbers, dear readers, and tell me: are South Dakota’s 31,000 farms bearing a fair share of the K-12 tax burden?