Why CAUV lawsuits not best approach

Buckeye Farm News

Farm Bureau’s perspective is that lawsuits are not the preferred way to gain reforms. Litigation can take as long as six years. Another problem is courts can’t enact solutions.

A lawsuit filed by one group of landowners, which seeks class action status, alleges that the Ohio Department of Taxation has illegally raised CAUV valuations and asks the court to refund what the suit claims are illegally collected taxes. A second group of landowners has filed an administrative appeal asking the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals to rule that the tax department has not allowed sufficient deductions for woodland values and require the higher deductions be used going forward.

The lawsuit and administrative appeal both have uncertain outcomes. The lawsuit would proceed through the court system, with the possibility of a trial and appeals. The administrative appeal will similarly follow the Board of Tax Appeals hearing process and has the potential of an automatic appeal directly to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Resolving lawsuits like these can take years. Should the court find the tax department acted illegally, it would leave to the legislature or the department to sort out what it should be doing instead. And, if the goal is to encourage change at the tax department, a lawsuit diminishes the ability to negotiate an amicable solution.

Farm Bureau is not involved with either legal action but continues to monitor both cases and may engage in the future.

Meanwhile, the organization continues to pursue further improvements to CAUV. Last spring, OFBF secured administrative changes that held down the amount of increases in future tax years and improved the valuations for woodlands.

In talks with the tax department, administration and lawmakers, OFBF continues to seek changes to improve how landowners are taxed and preserve the program for future generations.

Lynn Snyder 

Lynn Snyder is senior director of communications for Ohio Farm Bureau.