From devastating fires, a protracted drought and the seasonal threat of damaging storms and cyclones, the recent weather conditions are challenging many farmers from various agricultural industries across the state. For many farmers, it’s reassuring that despite difficult circumstances, a combination of low interest rates, some strong commodity prices and an optimistic outlook drove strong farmland value growth in most regions in 2019 and will likely do so again in 2020. Values are expected to rise particularly for large scale properties with a track record of producing high-yielding crops, those in reliable rainfall zones or those with access to secure water allocations and entitlements.
As agricultural land values rise, some farmers are becoming liable for land tax for the first time or their liability is increasing. With Queensland’s intensive industries maintaining high throughput businesses which require water, energy and feed, farmers are facing greater financial pressure as their profitability margins are eroded and their business viability is threatened.
However, farmers may be eligible for a primary production exemption if their land is used solely for the business of primary production or a home exemption on uses as their home. Farmers have an opportunity to review their liability, check the Office of State Revenue’s (OSR) records of their landholding, and claim any relevant exemptions before a land tax assessment is issued. If a farmer has received an assessment but believes that they may be eligible to claim a primary production or other exemption, they can still apply, and a reassessment will be issued once the application is approved. Importantly, no further action is taken to recover payment of their land tax assessment until their exemption application has been considered. Farmers can claim a primary production exemption by emailing their completed Form LT11 to the OSR or by lodging their application online by registering for OSR Online. And for those experiencing genuine financial hardship and ineligible to claim in exemption, a pay-by-instalment arrangement is available to service their tax debt. While agricultural property market values are positive, farmers are encouraged to seek financial advice and assistance early to ensure distressed sales do not occur.