By Thomas P. Caldwell, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – The Current Use Advisory Council has approved proposed changes to the current use rates for the 2022-2023 tax year which represent modest increases in forest land categories. Farmland would remain at its 2021-22 rate.
The board sets current usage amounts through a series of public hearings, taking into account changes in the value of land assets, such as timber.
Current use taxation aims to conserve agricultural land and forests by taxing the property based on its current use, rather than its market rate if fully developed. The current use law was enacted in 1973 after residents of Granite State approved a constitutional amendment in 1968 aimed at slowing development and preserving open spaces.
In recent years, there has been a backlash against current use, especially in municipalities like Lyme, where large percentages of ownership are taxed over current use. They argue that giving tax breaks to large landowners forces other taxpayers to shoulder the burden of paying for schools and municipal services.
Developers say without current use many families would be unable to pay their taxes and would be forced to sell their property to developers, creating a need for additional utilities and pushing municipal budgets up.
At the board’s public comment meeting on November 3 in Lancaster, a stakeholder said he was a seventh generation farmer who wanted to bequeath his property to his daughter, but said that with no current use, she could not afford to keep the farm. .
The Board of Directors held three public consultation sessions to hear from residents on the proposed rate changes, and in the final session on November 5, Jasen Stock of the NH Timberland Owners Association and Rob Johnson of the NH Farm Bureau Federation spoke in favor of the new tariffs.
Under the proposal, farmland would continue to be valued at between $ 25 and $ 425 an acre.
Forest land would be valued at $ 123 to $ 185 per acre for white pine, $ 64 to $ 96 per acre for hardwoods, and $ 40 to $ 60 per acre for other species. This represents an increase of $ 1 for white pine and hardwood, while other species remain the same.
Forest land with documented stewardship would be valued at $ 74-111 for white pine, $ 38-58 for hardwoods and $ 24-36 for other species. This represents an increase of $ 1 for white pine. Hardwood would remain the same on the low end, with a $ 1 increase on the high end. Other trees would be assessed at the 2021-22 level.
Wetlands remain unchanged at $ 24 per acre.
By approving these tariffs on Friday, the Current Use Board is set to bring the recommendations forward into the business rule-making process that will involve another round of public hearings before adoption. The goal is to have new rates by April 1 when next year’s property valuations are set by cities.
While current use taxation saves landowners money as long as the property is not developed, they pay a penalty of 10% of the ‘highest and best use value’. Â»If they later remove the property from its current use in order to develop it. A provision in the law allows a community to allocate a portion of the land-use change tax to conservation efforts.
In order to be eligible for current use tax, there must be at least 10 acres of land beyond the portion used as a residence and “belt” – the area used for the well, septic tank, the driveway and outbuildings. Small plots are eligible if they are used for growing crops valued at at least $ 2,500, if it is a certified forest farm of any size, or if there are unsuitable wetlands. improved of any size.
An additional 20% reduction in assessment is possible if the landowner grants recreational use of the land that allows for hunting, fishing, hiking, skiing, snowshoeing and nature viewing. Council members noted that while this seems like a high percentage, it comes to around $ 15 on a 60-acre parcel. They also said that these recreational uses include 7,000 miles of snowmobile trails on private land, and that recreation on these properties generates $ 600 million in revenue for the state.
TP Caldwell is a writer, editor, photographer and videographer who has trained and serves as the Project Manager of the Liberty independent media project. Contact him at [email protected].