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Legislative changes simplify enrollment for Rural Preserve program

Mon, Jun 28th, 2010
Posted in State of Minnesota

Saint Paul - Recent legislative changes will make the new Rural Preserve program a simpler option for Minnesota farmers deciding on property tax treatment of non-agricultural, class 2b rural vacant land that is currently enrolled in Green Acres.

Class 2b land will no longer qualify for Green Acres starting Jan. 2, 2013 (for taxes payable in 2014). Rural Preserve is just one of several options landowners may choose for class 2b land once it is removed or withdrawn from Green Acres.

Revenue Commissioner Ward Einess "urges landowners to weigh all of your options before making this important decision about your class 2b land. Think carefully about what is best for your overall situation."

Other options for class 2b land are explained below.

Rural Preserve will offer tax deferral benefits similar to Green Acres for qualifying rural woodlands. Though tax benefits are similar, Rural Preserve requires a preservation plan and covenant that prevents changing the use of land while enrolled in the program.

Legislation enacted this year simplified the preservation plan requirement and reduced the minimum covenant and enrollment period to eight years (down from 10 years). The revised law requires a simplified "conservation assessment plan" to enroll eligible land in Rural Preserve, which can be based on a USDA field map rather than a more-detailed land inventory as under the previous requirement.

Landowners can apply for Rural Preserve starting with the 2011 assessment (for taxes payable in 2012).


The main choices for landowners with class 2b land currently enrolled in Green Acres include:

· Withdraw class 2b land from Green Acres by Aug. 16, 2010. The usual three-year payback of deferred property tax will be waived for class 2b land withdrawn by Aug. 16. This avoids the payback, but withdrawn acres will be valued at market value for taxes payable in 2011 and beyond.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 before Jan. 2, 2013. Class 2b land that is shifted to Rural Preserve by 2013 will not be subject to the three-year payback requirement. Land that is shifted to other programs will be subject to a three-year payback. Examples include 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 remaining in Green Acres will be automatically withdrawn on the assessment date of Jan. 2, 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 should contact their county assessor's office. For general program information, visit the Department of Revenue website at www.taxes.state.mn.us and click "Property Tax" in the top-left navigation menu.

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