The Forestry Forum

General Forestry => General Board => Topic started by: John Mc on April 03, 2011, 09:06:00 PM

Title: NY State Forestland "current use" tax program?
Post by: John Mc on April 03, 2011, 09:06:00 PM
Can anyone point me to a good write up of New York State's "Current Use" tax assessment program for forest land?  I'm fairly familiar with the system in Vermont, but have some relatives in upstate NY who are considering their options on a wooded parcel they own. I've heard good and bad about NY's system, and want to make sure they go in to things with their eyes open.
Title: Re: NY State Forestland "current use" tax program?
Post by: Chuck White on April 04, 2011, 09:32:37 AM
Not sure on your question John!

I'll just rant a little.  I think the the worse thing with regards to State Land is that the state will buy up all the land it can get, then the next thing you'll hear is how indebted the state is, and your taxes go up!  :-\
If they would just sell some of the land to perspective buyers, they could clear the states debt!  >:(

I wouldn't sell any parcel of land to the state!
Title: Re: NY State Forestland "current use" tax program?
Post by: John Mc on April 04, 2011, 11:03:06 AM
Chuck -

Current Use is not about buying or selling land. It is about adjusting the property tax assessment on a parcel to reflect something closer to its value as forest or agricultural land, if that is how it is being used (rather than taxing it at its "highest and best use" - which usually means its value for development, even though it is not developed).

Vermont has good system for this, which has greatly reduced development pressure on forest and farmland (otherwise, I and many others would have to sell off much of our land... we simply couldn't afford to continue to pay Vermont's property taxes).

I've heard mixed things about the system in NY. Last I heard, not many eligible parcels were enrolled, and there were some rather draconian requirements or penalties for withdrawal. My information may be out of date.

John Mc
Title: Re: NY State Forestland "current use" tax program?
Post by: breederman on April 04, 2011, 11:48:18 AM
I am not sure that we have any such program,not that I know much about such things. Are you sure they are not talking about a forest management plan and using cost share money to implement the plan? I think there are pretty good penalty's for pulling out of that program. There is also an ag exemption that can be used if requirements are met, but I am not aware of a "best use" program.
Title: Re: NY State Forestland "current use" tax program?
Post by: John Mc on April 04, 2011, 12:46:20 PM
Current Use may not be the official name (it's not in VT either, but that's what everyone refers to it by, since you are getting taxed based on the "current use" of the land rather than what it is worth as development).  Yes, NY does have such a program for both Ag and forest land... in fact, I believe NY was one of the first states to have such a program.

Here's a link to the NY DEC page ( on the program. What I'm really hoping to find is some 3rd party comments on how the program works, and whether it's worth enrolling lands. I've heard that not many forest land owners have taken advantage of it - which may be an indication that the problems outweigh the benefits.

John Mc
Title: Re: NY State Forestland "current use" tax program?
Post by: beenthere on April 04, 2011, 02:59:28 PM
John Mc
Try contacting the Forestry Owners Assoc in NY

They would likely have had such discussions about the merits of entering forest lands in state programs.

Wisconsin started such a program back in the early 60's. Only two rules to follow. 1) Don't burn and 2) don't graze.
To enter the program, the forested land was visited by a state district forester and the program was for 10 years. Tax per acre was fixed at less than $1. Acres were limited to 80 with a minimum of 10. Write your own management plan for approval and good to go. Could log, make firewood, plant trees, etc but no burning and now grazing.

As time went on, the rules became more and more restrictive, with more detailed management plans required. Such detail has now been turned over to the consulting foresters to handle with the land owner paying for those plans (hear about $2000). The tax has increased to a few dollars per acre, the size of the contiguous parcel has increased and the plan covers 25 years (called Managed Forest Law). The penalty for dropping out (or getting kicked out) of the plan is to pay back taxes.

To push landowners into getting into the Managed Forest Plan, the state increased forested property assessments from $1000 to $3000 per acre (many times what the ag land assessment is). Early on, the forestry program (don't burn and don't graze) was to improve the forests by removing them from being pasture land for the farms. Now there seems to be an incentive to go back and graze and burn.  ::) ::) ::)

Title: Re: NY State Forestland "current use" tax program?
Post by: Piston on April 05, 2011, 06:51:02 AM
NH also has a Current Use program.  I found the .pdf document on the town's webpage that my land is in.  My grandfather would have had to sell his land if it weren't for Current Use, that is the official name for it in NH. 

Once the land is in Current Use it will only be taken out if the land use changes to something other than forest land, agricultural land, or wildlife land, etc.  such as building a house or driveway on it.  You can build a home but they will add up the dimensions of the home and lot,and you have to pay a penalty based on the value of whatever those dimensions are, for us it is 10%.

I really like the Current Use program as it has stopped many many developments from easily being built all over, our minimum is 10acres with no maximum. 

Sorry I can't help with NYS
Title: Re: NY State Forestland "current use" tax program?
Post by: KBforester on April 05, 2011, 07:06:59 AM
John Mc-

Here is some info on the forest taxation program. There is the fisher tax law (480), which doesn't really do all that much, and then 480-a which provides more savings. If they are serious about real forest management, then 480-a is very worth while in a place with high taxes. Taxes are one of the many reasons I decided to leave NY...