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New Utah laws carve out property tax exemptions

Paul Foy, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Real-estate tax exemptions for soldiers and urban farmers are among new laws taking effect in Utah for the New Year.

One military exemption is for U.S. service personnel who spend 200 days on active duty in a calendar year. Another is for military reservists left disabled by a tour of duty. Previously, only active-duty members who were left disabled by training or combat qualified.

A third tax break becoming available Tuesday is for urban farmers, who can take advantage of a lower tax rate by growing food on their land.

The property tax exemption for members of the armed forces who spend long tours on duty overseas was made in a constitutional amendment approved by voters in November.

Disabled veterans get a tax deduction matching the scope of their disability. If they're deemed 50 percent disabled, their tax bills shrink by 50 percent.

Families of about 1,600 military members will qualify, legislative analysts say.

It will force other taxpayers to make up the difference, about $2.1 million, according to estimates prepared at the Utah Capitol.

The large group of taxpayers won't have to pay much, however. Analysts say the tax bill on a $250,000 house will rise by $1.03 as more than 900,000 property owners foot the bill.

To qualify for a tax break on urban farming, homeowners in Utah's largest counties must grow at least half the food that farmers can produce, by the acre. They also must hold a "reasonable expectation" of making some money on produce sales.

Legislative analysts expect up to 1,200 homeowners to apply for those tax reductions totaling $1.2 million a year. That will force other taxpayers to make up the difference, which will equal $2.75 a year on a $250,000 house, analysts say.