Ohio Supreme Court rules in favor of CAUV woodland owners

Two cases regarding Current Agricultural Use Value were decided in favor of landowners earlier this month by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Ohio Farm Bureau supported plaintiffs in both cases through amicus briefs, according to Leah Curtis, policy counsel and senior director of member engagement. The cases involved woodland owners in 20 counties.

“The decision in the first case preserves the right of a landowner to appeal the CAUV values on the whole at the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals when the tax commissioner issues the final list of soil values,” Curtis said. “This is what we advocated for in our amicus brief, to ensure landowners have their opportunity to be heard by the Board of Tax Appeals.”

The BTA had previously ruled in favor of the tax commissioner that it did not have jurisdiction over an appeal of CAUV values, because they were not a “final determination” as required by Ohio law.

The second case was a rule review challenge wherein the landowners alleged that the CAUV values themselves were rules and the CAUV rules were unreasonable because they did not require the values to go through the full rule-making process, Curtis said.

“The court dismissed the claim that the CAUV values are rules,” Curtis said. “While they are final determinations and appealable, they are not rules as the Revised Code defines. OFBF had expressed concerns to the court that treating farmland values as individual rules could have politicized the value-setting process.”

CAUV values are considered a “final determination” and as such are under the jurisdiction of the Board of Tax Appeals to hear appeals, Curtis said.

The plaintiffs included landowners from Adams, Athens, Champagne, Gallia, Hancock, Highland, Hocking, Jackson, Medina, Meigs, Miami, Morrow, Pike, Richland, Ross, Sandusky, Scioto, Seneca, Vinton and Washington counties who appealed their CAUV values to the BTA. They argued the state had calculated too low of a cost for clearing woodlands when determining the CAUV values of their woodlands. The case will return to the Board of Tax Appeals for further proceedings.