Tricounty News

Two weeks until Green Acres withdrawal deadline



Minnesota farmers need to notify their county assessor before Aug. 16, if they want to withdraw non-agricultural, class 2b rural vacant land from Green Acres without facing a payback of property taxes deferred under the program.

Class 2b land will no longer qualify for Green Acres for taxes payable in 2014 and beyond. Landowners have several options for class 2b land once it is removed or withdrawn from Green Acres.

The Green Acres law normally requires a payback of deferred tax when land is sold or withdrawn from the program. The payback is equal to the amount of deferred tax for the most recent three-year period. But the payback requirement will not apply to class 2b land that is withdrawn before Aug. 16.

Withdrawing class 2b land from Green Acres this year may affect property taxes payable in 2011, and is only one of the options for landowners to consider. They may also choose to leave class 2b land in Green Acres for now while they explore and pursue other options.

"Please think carefully about what is best for your overall situation," said Revenue Commissioner Ward Einess. "The decision you make now can affect property taxes and how you use your land in the future."

The main options for landowners with 2b lands currently enrolled in Green Acres include:

¥ Withdraw class 2b land from Green Acres before Aug. 16, 2010. The usual three-year payback of deferred property tax will be waived for any class 2b land that is withdrawn before Aug. 16. This avoids the payback, but withdrawn acres will be valued at market value for taxes payable in 2011 and beyond.

¥ Leave class 2b land in Green Acres for now, but transition it to another program by May 1, 2013. Class 2b land that is transitioned to the new Rural Preserve program by May 1, 2013, will not be subject to the three-year payback requirement. Rural Preserve will offer tax deferral benefits similar to Green Acres for qualifying rural woodlands, but will also require a preservation plan and covenant that prevents changing the use of land while enrolled.

A payback may apply on land moved to other programs such as the Sustainable Forest Incentive Act (SFIA), which provides an annual payment for enrolled woodland, or the class 2c Managed Forest classification, which provides some landowners with a reduced class rate.

¥ Leave class 2b land in Green Acres until the 2013 assessment. Any class 2b land that remains in Green Acres will be automatically withdrawn in 2013. The land will be subject to a three-year payback and will be assessed at full market value for taxes payable in 2014 and beyond.

Taxpayers with questions about their property or program eligibility should contact their county assessor's office.Ê For general information on the property tax system or Green Acres, Rural Preserve and other programs, visit the Department of Revenue website at www.taxes.state.mn.us, and click "Property Tax" in the top-left navigation menu.