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Chittenden, Alfred K. (Alfred Knight), 1879-1930 / The taxation of forest lands in Wisconsin
(1911)

Views of lumbermen on taxation,   pp. 44-49 PDF (1.6 MB)


Page 45


THE TAXATION OF FOREST LANDS IN WISCONSIN.
obtain an actual second growth; but the second cut would include,
as a rule, only such trees as were left as culls after the original
operation, and which it was expected would in the next ten or fifteen
years acquire a marketable value. In both instances it is intended
that these areas, after being cut over the second time, shall be dis-
posed of for farm land. and it, therefore, appears that the second-
cut idea is largely a matter of covering the costs of holding such lands
over a period during which land values are expected to rise. The
view was emphatically expressed by most lumbermen that, under the
present tax methods, no second cuts of timber could ever be relied
upon, and would only be obtained here and there where fires were
scarce and taxes low.  In one instance where the present mature
timber has been held for the past twenty years, the owner maintains
that the taxes already paid in have exceeded the present value of
the timber. This is exceptional but goes to show the hopeless outlook
for owners of young timber in such towns who may desire to hold
it until it reaches merchantable size.
Lumbermen, however, naturally show less real concern over so re-
note a difficultv as their inability tn grow see…on…-'-'  
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than over the more immediate injuries chargeable to the operation
of the general property tax. It certainly can not be denied that the
average large timber holder has sufficient grounds for complaint over
injustices attributable to the unsatisfactory administration of the
present tax law and often to the law itself. Assessors will, almost
without exception, persistently hold to the illogical conclusion that a
large owner of stumpage is not overtaxed so long as his assessments
do not exceed the real value of his property. Most lumbermen will
acknowledge that, as a rule, timber holdings are assessed at not more
than from 40 to 60 per cent of their full values. Yet it is perfectly
obvious that great injustice results to a lumberman, if other classes
of property are at the same time assessed at only from 20 to 40 per
cent of their marketable value. He is then materially overtaxed
even though admittedly underassessed.  This is exactly the case in
northern Wisconsin between the lumbermen and the farmers. Culti-
vated land, the lumbermen assert, is seldom assessed at more than
from 20 to 30 per cent of its true value, while from 40 to 60 per
cent more nearly represents the proportion of true value charged
against cut-over timberlands.
  Very few timberland owners, however, lay particular stress on this
phase of the injustice suffered by them.   Cultivated land is so
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