Alabama Forestry Association

May 30, 2003

Fax Memo To: Members of the Alabama Forestry Association
From: Boyd Kelly
Subject: Governor Riley’s Property Tax Bill

Governor Riley’s property tax increase will be voted on Monday, June 2 shortly after the House convenes at 4:00 PM. [To access a calculator you can use to compute the effect of his tax increase on you and your family click here.] Anyone wishing to influence the Representatives’ votes should call them this weekend while they are at home in their districts. Monday afternoon, they may be reached at the Statehouse in Montgomery, 334-242-7600, but this method of communication is very unreliable.

Governor Riley’s original proposal destroyed current use valuation and singled out timberland owners and farmers for a disproportionate share of his $465,000,000 property tax increase. Thankfully, we were able to team up with the Alfa/Farmers’ Federation and persuade the House Education Finance and Appropriations Committee to adopt an amendment restoring current use valuation. This amendment cut Governor Riley’s increase by an average of $.44 an acre. Because his plan also changes the classification system, taxes on an average acre of timberland will still go up from $1.28 to $2.80 under the version of the bill to be considered on Monday. The amended bill is consistent with the AFA’s policy regarding fairness because it applies uniformly to all Class III property. Whether it is uniformly too high is a matter for the Legislature and the voters to decide.

The vote will come just 3 days after the House approved a bill raising individual income taxes by $414,000,000 and corporate income taxes by $80,000,000. These bills were passed today with relatively little debate. The individual income tax bill eliminates the tax liability for 50% of the taxpayers ($170,000,000 cut); but makes this up and $414,000,000 more on increases for the top 32% of taxpayers.

The AFA has promoted specific amendments to the property tax bill designed to reduce the impact on forest landowners. Overall, the Alabama Forestry Association believes Governor Riley’s $1.3 Billion tax package is too large and lacks accountability.