ST. PAUL – A number of local citizens have expressed their uncertainty and/or concern over how recent changes in tax law impact the Green Acres program. 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.
“Legislators already are working to iron out any wrinkles and forums have taken place to provide citizens with input,” State Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, said. “A bill to restore Green Acres to its previous form could be introduced when the Legislature convenes in January.”
Urdahl offered clarification on two key points:
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.
Meantime, 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.
Dean Urdahl represents District 18B in the Minnesota House of Representatives. The district includes most of Meeker County and a portion of Wright County. This is Urdahl’s third term in the legislature after being elected in 2002, 2004 and 2006.