Board of Tax Appeals ruling that could affect you, input needed

Landowners with non-permanent grain storage bins should check their county auditor’s tax card to determine if the auditor is taxing the bins as real property.

The Ohio Board of Tax Appeals (BTA) recently ruled that non-permanent grain storage bins at a grain elevator are not “real property” under Ohio law, and should be not be considered improvements that add to the property tax bill. The case is now headed to the Ohio Supreme Court for further consideration and Ohio Farm Bureau will be weighing in with the court on this important issue through an amicus brief.

“This decision would ensure the uniform statewide application of property tax law and mandates that throughout Ohio grain storage bins cannot be taxed by the auditors as real property,” said Jon Brollier, partner at the law firm of Bricker and Eckler who represented the property owner in this case.

Leah Curtis, Ohio Farm Bureau director of agricultural law, said county auditors currently have differed in their treatment of grain storage bins as either real property, personal property, or business fixtures. This meant that in some counties, grain storage bins are taxed as improvements to real property and in others they are not. This case will be an opportunity to provide clarity and consistency across the state for our members.

The BTA cited the non-permanent nature of the grain storage bins as reasoning for not considering the bins real property. The bins’ non-permanent characteristics include their modular nature, their bolted to the ground construction, and their ability to be disassembled, sold, and subsequently reassembled. The BTA distinguished grain storage bins from silos, which are considered to be permanent improvements affixed to the land, and are taxable as real property.

“As far as we know, not all counties are taxing grain bins – some are following previous guidance that grain bins were not taxable real property and others were taxing them,” Curtis said.

She said landowners should check the county auditor’s tax card, available online at the auditors’ website, to see if their grain bins are being taxed, as part of the improvements on the land. OFBF’s amicus brief will provide the landowner perspective on the issue, and we hope you can help us by letting us know what county you live in and whether your bins are taxed as property in the survey below.