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Individual Highlight

State programs to reduce forestland property taxes vary in requirements and implementation.

Photo of Privately-owned forest land can provide many economic benefits. State programs can reduce property taxes for forest land, but landowners must comply with the requirements in state law.Privately-owned forest land can provide many economic benefits. State programs can reduce property taxes for forest land, but landowners must comply with the requirements in state law.Snapshot : All states in the U.S. have programs that lower property taxes for qualified forest land, which is justified by the economic benefits and non-market amenities that forests provide. Researchers at the University of Minnesota and the Southern Research Station dug into the tax laws in all 50 states to understand their requirements for enrollment and methods of implementation. They found wide variation in what states require from landowners in order to enroll land parcels, penalties for withdrawal, and the agencies that implement the programs.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Frey, Gregory E. 
Research Location : Review of laws from all 50 states
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2018
Highlight ID : 1476

Summary

Financial incentives offered by state property tax programs are a means of promoting goods and services from private forestland. Comprehensive information about the variety of program arrangements used by other states can empower managers and policymakers to more wisely compare and possibly adopt programs for their home state, especially tax classifications, eligibility requirements, administrative procedures, management plan requirements, penalties for noncompliance, and the public and private organizations responsible for program implementation. Identified by a 50-state review, these property tax programs often require adherence to several conditions: valid ownership and use of forestland, correct size of parcel and suitable forest conditions, implementation of professionally prepared forest management plans, notifying authorities of intent to harvest timber, willingness to participate in reviews and inspections, and an understanding of potential financial or procedural penalties. Implementation of these administrative conditions may require the involvement of several agencies at many levels of government, most frequently offices of local governments with support from citizen advisory committees and boards, tax review appeals and equalization boards, forestry boards and commissions, forestry divisions within state natural resource departments, and state departments of finance and revenue.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • John Greene and Evan Mercer, both Emeritus Scientists at the Southern Research Station, participated in the design and formulation of this research project.
  • Michael Kilgore, Professor, University of Minnesota
  • Paul Ellefson, Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota
  • Travis Funk, Former Graduate Research Assistant, University of Minnesota