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Last Updated 03/03/2006
COUNTY BOARD OF TAXATION
Main Street County Complex
71 Main Street - Building #3B
PO Box 2900
Flemington, New Jersey 08822-2900
908-788-1173 * Fax: 908-806-4641
BASIC REQUIREMENTS OF FARMLAND ASSESSMENT
In the case where a taxpayer submits an application for farmland assessment that has not been filed previously to qualify for farmland preservation, the owner shall submit a map of land use classes and soil groups as described in the Report of the State Farmland Evaluation Advisory Committee which is published annually each October 1 by the New Jersey Division of Taxation. A copy of this report can be obtained by calling the Division at 609-984-2503.
AREA OF LAND DEVOTED
In determining the area of devoted or qualified land, all the land under barns, sheds, seasonal farm markets selling predominantly agricultural products, seasonal agricultural labor housing, soils, cribs, greenhouses and like structures, lakes, dams, ponds, streams, irrigation ditches and like facilities is included. Land under the farmhouse, and such additional and as may be actually used in connection with the farmhouse, including, but not limited to, land used for lawns, flower gardens, shrubs, recreation and for like purposes, is excluded in determining the total area.
Where individual parcels of land in agriculture or horticultural use under a single ownership are located in the same taxing district, compliance with the five-acre minimum area eligibility requirement is deemed to have been met if the individual parcels are contiguous and the aggregate eligible area thereof is at least five acres. For the purpose of this Section, land under single ownership, separated by a public right of way, is deemed to be contiguous.
Where contiguous land in agricultural or horticultural use in one ownership is located in more than one taxing district, compliance with the five-acre minimum are requirement is determined on the basis of the total eligible area of such land and not the area which is located in the particular taxing district.
Where separate, noncontiguous parcels of land in agricultural or horticultural use, in a single ownership, are located in the same taxing district, a separate application for farmland assessment must be made with respect to each parcel. The area of the separate parcels may not be aggregated or the purpose of meeting the five acre eligibility requirement.
The Farmland Assessment Act established the Farmland Evaluation Advisory Committee made up of the Director of the Division of Taxation, the Dean of Cook College and the State Secretary of Agriculture. The Farmland Evaluation Advisory Committee publishes ranges of fair value for utilization by assessors in assessing qualified farmland in accordance with its agricultural or horticultural use.
The productivity values established by the State Farmland Evaluation Advisory Committee are reported by the use of the land, soil group for each county. soil groups are from "A" being the most productive to "E" being the least productive farmland.
For the 1998 tax year, using soil group B, "good farmland", the values for cropland harvested ranged from $520 to $720 per acre by county.
The imputed grazing values for soil group B ranged from $73 to $79 per acre by county. This annual report also provides values for cropland pastured, permanent pasture, and appurtenant and non-appurtenant woodland.
"Agriculture Use" is land devoted to the production for sale of plants and animals useful to man, including but not limited to forages and sod crops; grains and feed crops; dairy and dairy products; poultry and poultry products; livestock, including beef, cattle, sheep, swine, horses, ponies, mules or goats, including the breeding, boarding, raising, rehabilitating, training or grazing of any or all such animals except "livestock" shall not include dogs; bees and apiary products; fur-animals; trees and forest products or when devoted to and meeting the new requirements and qualifications for payments or other compensation pursuant to a soil conservation program under an agreement with an agency of the Federal Government.
"Horticultural Use" is land devoted to the production for sale of fruits of all kinds including grapes, nuts and berries; vegetables; nursery, floral, ornamental and greenhouse products; or when devoted to an meeting the requirements and qualifications for payments or other compensation pursuant to a soil conservation program under and agreement with an agency of the Federal Government.
"Beneficial to a Tract of Land" means land which enhances the use of other land devoted to agricultural or horticultural production by providing benefits such as, but not limited to, windbreaks, watershed, buffers, soil erosion control, or other recognizable enhancements of the viability of the qualifying land.
"Change in Use" means when land valued under the Farmland Assessment Act is applied to a use other than agriculture or horticulture, including being abandoned from farming.
"Fees Received for Grazing" means only those fees which are actually paid in consideration for grazing and which reasonably reflect the value of grazing provided. The income which would otherwise be imputed to land used for grazing as established and determined by the State Farmland Evaluation Advisory Committee shall be prima facie evidence of those fees which reasonably reflect the value of the grazing provided.
Income Imputed to Land Used for Grazing" means values for the pasturing of livestock as established by the State Farmland Evaluation Advisory Committee.
Raising Livestock" means the management, caring and feeding of livestock for the purpose of producing for sale as a farm product either the livestock themselves or produced therefrom.
"Seasonal Agricultural Labor Housing" Means dwelling units designed solely for lodging laborers and their family members where laborers are employed to perform seasonal agricultural or horticultural labor on the contiguous land, five acres or more, qualifying for farmland assessment. Notwithstanding a claim as labor employed on the land, any housing which is either occupied by the landowner, the landowner's spouse, or their children, parents or siblings or is not vacant annually for a minimum period of 90 continuous days during any period of 12 continuous months shall not be deemed to be "seasonal agricultural labor housing".
"Seasonal Farm Market" means a facility utilized for the primary purpose of selling predominately agricultural or horticultural products, and which is annually closed to business during the off season for a period of not less then 90 continuous days.
LIVE STOCK - Including Criteria for Equine Operations
The breading, boarding, raising, rehabilitating, training or grazing of livestock, which includes horses, is defined as an agricultural use. The boarding, raising, rehabilitating, training or grazing of livestock is also an agricultural use, but to be "actively devoted" boarding, rehabilitating or training facilities must be contiguous to land which otherwise qualifies for valuation, assessment and taxation under the Farmland Assessment Act.
It is to be noted that fees received for boarding, rehabilitating or training livestock are not counted when qualifying the initial five acres of land that is contiguous to a boarding, rehabilitating or training facility. However, fees received for breeding, raising or grazing any livestock and income imputed to land used for grazing can be counted.
The following examples are offered to assist in understanding the revisions made to the Farmland Assessment Act in 1995 that relate to boarding, rehabilitating or training livestock:
Under the Farmland Assessment Act, the land must be actively devoted to agriculture. The Act does not require the land owners, themselves to conduct farming activities. Land may be rented to another person who will actively farm the land.
It is the owner's responsibility to annually complete an application for Farmland Assessment. For rented land, the name Social Security number of the farmer and the current year's farming activity must be provided. The municipal assessor may require clear evidence of sales, especially where farming activities are not readily apparent.
Rent received from a farmer is not considered the sale of an agricultural or horticultural commodity, and can not be used to meet the sales requirement for farmland assessment. Instead the value of production sold from the land by the lessee is used.
The Farmland Assessment Act of 1964 provides that land "shall be deemed to be in agricultural use when devoted to the production for sale of plants and animals useful to man, including trees and forests products". Land devoted to the growing of trees (woodland) is eligible for reduced tax assessments when it meets certain qualification requirements.
There are three types of woodland to be considered in tax assessment.
WHEN THE USE OF LAND CHANGES
The Farmland Assessment Act provides special treatment for land which is continued in active agricultural or horticultural use by permitting reduced assessments and reduced tax on such qualifying lands. In order to recapture some of the taxes which would have been paid had the land been taxed on the same basis as all other property, the Farmland Assessment Act provides for levy or rollback tax if the use of the land changes.
The liability for rollback taxes attaches to the land at the time a change in use of the land occurs, but not when a change in ownership takes place, if the new owner continues to devote the land to agricultural or horticultural use in conformity with the requirements of the Act. any land which changes from an eligible agricultural or horticultural use under the Farmland assessment Act to some other non-farm use is subject to rollback taxes for the year in which the change takes place and for such of the two tax years immediately preceding, in which the land was valued, assessed and taxed under the Act.
FILING FOR FARMLAND ASSESSMENT
The owner or owners of land used for agriculture or horticultural purposes may apply for assessment of the land under the Farmland Assessment Act by filing Form FA-1, which is available from the respective municipal tax assessor. Woodland owners must file in addition to the Form FA-1 a completed Woodland Data Form (WD-1) and a copy of their woodland management plan.
Form FA-1 and Form WD-1 if required, must be filed annually with the tax assessor on or before August 1 of the year preceding the year for which Farmland Assessment is being applied for. An extension of time for filing is extended to December 1 of the pre-tax year if the taxing district completes a revaluation or reassessment of all real property in time to be reflected in the assessments for the next succeeding tax year.
The assessor may grant an extension of time for filing the application for farmland assessment which extension shall terminate no later than September 1 of the pre-tax year, in any event where it shall appear to the satisfaction of the assessor that failure to file by August 1 was due to:
An assessor shall not approve an extension of time to file an application for farmland assessment in cases where the death of the owner or a member of the owner's immediate family occurred prior to January 1 of the pre-tax year.
By law, an on-site inspection of the land will be made by the tax assessor at least once every three years. However, on-site inspections may be made as many times as reasonably necessary to establish the eligibility status of the land for the purpose of approving or disapproving the application.
COMPLETING THE FORM FA-1
The Form FA-1 application, when filed, becomes the primary document containing the essential information as required by Law, whereby a tract of land, devoted to agricultural or horticultural use and meeting certain legal requirements is considered for eligibility for preferential tax treatment under the Farmland Assessment Act. The application provides basic data each year on a tract of land by county and district for which the owner seeks farmland assessment for the coming year. if the form FA-1 contains information which is not accurate or data is missing it may be denied.
Section 1 - Identification Information
The name, address, telephone number, Social Security number, land location and block(s) and lot(s) are to be filled in.
The land may be farmed solely by the owner, rented to a farmer, or farmed by the owner and tenant. If the farmland is farmed by someone other than the owner, information on the farm operator including a Social Security number needs to be provided.
Section II - Breakdown of Land Use Classes
Acreage in a tract of land is either actively devoted or not actively devoted. Land not actively devoted is assessed at its true value. Refer to the definition of land use classes in order to correctly place the acreage by its use in the current (pre-tax) year.
SECTION III - Current Year Farming Activity
In filling out the number of acres in Section III, it is possible to exceed the total acreage of all land reported in Section II in that tow plantings in the same year (double cropping) is to be reported as the acreage for each crop. For example two plantings on 25 acres should be reported as 50 acres.
The above information is intended to help landowners understand the basic requirements of the Farmland Assessment Act.