Minimum income requirements waived for farmers
The Government of British Columbia has announced it is waiving minimum income requirements for existing B.C. farm operations, allowing them to maintain their current property tax farm status for 2021.
“Our government is committed to helping farmers farm, and we are working to create a strong and resilient food system,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “It’s been a difficult year for many people, and this change is just one more example of how we are recognizing the challenges and supporting farmers.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for some B.C. farm operations, including smaller-scale farms that depend on roadside stands, farm markets and public interaction for sales revenue. Without this action, a number of properties would have been in jeopardy of losing farm status for the 2021 tax year, significantly increasing the property tax burden on those farmers and farm families, outlined a July 29 Ministry of Agriculture media release.
“We know that robust and healthy farm operations will play an important role as we restart our economy,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “Our government is committed to helping farmers maintain their farm classification for 2021 to ensure they can produce the food people in B.C. rely on.”
In order to be classified as a farm in British Columbia, properties must meet certain criteria, including generating a minimum amount of gross income from a qualifying agriculture use based on the size of the parcel of land. This minimum income requirement must be met every two years and there must be some income generated every year.
BC Assessment sends out self-reporting income questionnaires and conducts intermittent inspections to determine whether a property should maintain its farm status for the upcoming tax year.
New applications for farm class and retired farmer designations will be processed as usual by BC Assessment, the ministry added.
Any property subject to a legal change, including a change in ownership or subdivision, and any property with a change in use or where a lease is expiring, will be required to complete a self-reporting questionnaire and will not automatically be granted farm status for 2021.