Ont. to change farm bunkhouses’ tax classification

Bunkhouses provided for temporary or seasonal workers on Ontario farms will be taxed as farm rather than residential property.

The provincial government on Monday announced on-farm bunkhouses’ property tax classification will change to farm from residential effective Jan. 1, 2011.

As such, municipal taxes on such residences will thus be charged at just 25 per cent of  what would be billed under a given municipality’s residential tax rate (formerly known as the mill rate), the province said.

The new classification is expected to apply to about 2,000 bunkhouses on farms across the province.

The bunkhouses will then be assessed by the province’s Municipal Property Assessment Corp. using property values based on farmer-to-farmer sales of farmland.

The change is expected to ensure “consistent property tax treatment for farm properties across the province,” provincial Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said in Monday’s release.

The province in 2000 moved from an annual registration system, in which farmers had to register their eligible property every year for the lower farm property class tax rate, to a multi-year application system.

The province now picks some farm properties at random each year to re-register, to ensure compliance as well as the “integrity of the data” used to calculate the farm assessment.

Submission of new registration forms is also required in a given tax year for farmland owners whose property has been sold or changed, as well as for new farmland property owners.

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