To the editor:
Many local citizens have approached me with uncertainty and/or concern regarding how the Green Acres program may be impacted by recent changes in tax law. Property tax administrators and taxpayers alike are looking for answers regarding agricultural property taxation and Green Acres.
Green Acres was created in 1967 to provide farmers with tax incentives to keep their land agriculturally productive. When the Omnibus Tax Bill passed in the final hours of the 2008 session, it included some changes in the Green Acres rules. Some unintended consequences have resulted and misinformation has been distributed, causing further confusion.
To clarify a couple of things:
1. If a land owner decides to leave their land in the Green Acres program, there will be no change in the property taxes on the land as a result of the 2008 enactments. There could be some impact in the future when the property is sold or transferred, depending on the nature of the land being held.
2. None of the changes are effective for property taxes payable in 2009. However, taxpayers may be subject to additional taxes in November, 2009, if they decide to withdraw some or all of their land from the Green Acres program.
Here is a timeline for Green Acres participants to follow:
1. Very soon – Counties send letters to taxpayers currently enrolled in Green Acres, outlining the available options for their productive and non-productive land for the 2009 assessment.
2. Jan. 2, 2009 – Taxpayers must indicate their intent in writing to the county assessor’s office of their desire to withdraw any land from Green Acres or grandfather their non-productive land into Green Acres.
3. Summer, 2009 – Deferred taxes/paybacks are calculated based on the average of 2009, 2008 and 2007 tax years and notices sent to taxpayers. Taxpayers then make their final decision regarding withdrawing or grandfathering acres.
4. Nov. 15, 2009 – Deferred taxes due.
Legislators already are working to eliminate any kinks and forums have taken place to provide citizens with input. I will be supporting a change to grandfather in all the current contracts and revisit the look-back provisions. More information will be passed along as things develop.