Guidance for flood debasements from IFB

By Brenda Matherly

The Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) is working alongside Illinois Farm Bureau to provide guidance on flood debasements. The primary message is crop loss due to flooding should be considered when assessing cropland for taxation.

IDOR recently distributed a memo to Chief County Assessing Officials (CCAOs) explaining the flood debasement process, the CCAO’s role and options available in prevent plant situations.

At the same time, IFB distributed information to county Farm Bureau offices and members explaining flood debasements, the farmer’s role and options available in prevent plant situations.

Since the enactment of the farmland assessment law, farmers have had the opportunity to receive a reduced per-acre assessed value on flooded cropland. This adjustment is based on documentation provided by the farmer to the CCAO. When the CCAO reduces the assessed value of cropland, it is called an adjustment or a debasement. When there is actual crop loss due to flooding, an adjustment, known as a flood debasement, can be applied to those acres that suffered loss. 

In order to receive a flood debasement, the farmer needs to document crop loss percentages and report that information to the CCAO.

To accurately calculate flood debasements, only those areas that suffered actual flood-related crop loss will be considered. This will require farmers to provide input on the crop history of the property.

Because of this year’s widespread and endured flooding, many farmers were forced into a prevent plant situation. With this large-scale, unprecedented situation, IDOR is suggesting CCAOs collect documentation provided by the property’s representative showing proof that the prevent plant parcel qualifies for a flood debasement.

As a guideline, IDOR is suggesting “Last Day to Plant” dates as approximate prevent plant dates that can be used to determine if a parcel could have been cropped with an expected yield harvest.

In addition to outlining the process, IDOR’s statewide guidelines also mention the need for the farmer to provide documentation proving flood-related crop loss. That includes identifying the actual acres affected by flooding; determining, from yield data, the extent loss (in bushels) caused in each flood situation; establishing a parcel’s flooding history by compiling 10 years of damage caused by flooding; and filing this information and documentation with the CCAO.

Proof of flooding might include photo documentation, actual yield production history reports, loss appraisals and disaster payment records from the local Farm Service Agency office. Farmers should have a conversation with their county assessing officials. If approved, the debasement will be applied beginning in assessment year 2020.

Brenda Matherly serves as IFB director of local government. Click here for more information on flood debasements from IFB.

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