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Commissioner of Revenue
1255 Franklin Street, Suite 102
Rocky Mount, VA 24151

Phone: 540-483-3083
Fax: 540-483-3089

Margaret S. Torrence
E-Mail: Commissioner

Monday-Friday
8:30 am - 5:00 pm

Land Use Program

In 1971, the Virginia General Assembly enacted a law permitting localities to adopt a program of special assessments for agriculture, horticultural, forest, and open space lands (Section 58.1-3299 through 58.1-3244 of the Code of Virginia). In 1978, the Franklin County Board of Supervisors chose to adopt this ordinance based on State Law to conserve acreage that may otherwise be developed. The purpose of the program is to encourage the proper preservation and use of such real estate to assure a readily available source of agricultural, horticultural, and forest products and of open spaces; conserve natural resources; prevent erosion and protect adequate and safe water supplies; preserve scenic natural beauty; and to promote proper land use planning and orderly development of real estate. When your land qualifies for land use taxation, the parcel receives a lower assessment than the fair market assessment. The difference in tax dollars is not a total abatement, but rather a deferment. Taxpayers owning real estate that meets the qualifications may enter the program under one or more of the following categories: Agricultural Use, Horticultural Use, Forest Use or Open Space Use.

Qualifications

AGRICULTURAL & HORTICULTURAL USE

To qualify for agricultural or horticultural use, the land must be devoted to the bona fide production for sale of crops, livestock, and/or horticultural products and generate a gross income of at least $1,000.00 per year averaged over a three (3) year period.

Virginia State Code requires a minimum of five (5) acres to qualify for agricultural or horticultural land use assessment. One acre is excluded for a house site (if a dwelling exists) or for a proposed house site. The remaining five (5) acres or more may qualify for land use taxation.

The property must have a five (5) year history of continuous farming or horticultural activity before qualifying on the sixth year. If land is left vacant for one year or more, the farm history must begin again for five (5) continuous years.

The entire farm must be qualified with adequate livestock: one mature cow, five goats, five sheep, five swine, one hundred chickens, and/or sixty-six turkeys per every five (5) acres for twelve (12) months. Horses can qualify the land only if they are being used for a breeding or boarding business. Horses maintained exclusively for recreational purposes do not qualify the land.

Crop Land is qualified on the basis of selling crops.

Pasture Land is qualified on the basis of having the required number of animals per every five (5) acres for a full twelve (12) month period or the equivalent (i.e. one mature cow per every five acres for 12 months, 3 for 4 months, 4 for 3 months, 2 for 6 months, etc.)

Horticultural crops (i.e. fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, nursery, floral, etc.) must be produced for commercial use to qualify for land use taxation.

Forest Use

The forest use category requires a minimum of twenty (20) acres of land exclusively devoted to forest use. No stripping or clear cutting is permitted unless working under the guidance of the Department of Forestry. Forestal participants are required to have a forestal commitment agreement. This can be obtained from the Franklin County Land Use Office or you may submit a plan from an independent forester.

Less than twenty (20) acres of forest will qualify if the same parcel has enough agricultural/horticultural (minimum of five acres) to qualify.

Open Space Use

This category is for specific types of parks, historical land, and recreational areas only. This category does not refer to open, unused land. Landowners who qualify under this category must enter into an Open Space Agreement with the Franklin County Board of Supervisors and the agreement is to be recorded with the Clerk of Circuit Court. The minimum acreage for this category is five (5) acres.

Minimum Acreage Requirements

The minimum acreage requirements for special classifications of real estate shall be determined by adding together the total area of contiguous (adjoining) real estate parcels deeded under the same ownership. Recorded subdivision lots can not be combined to meet minimum acreage requirements.

Applications

A separate application must be filed for each tract listed on the tax rolls.

Applications must be filed with the Land Use Coordinator within the Commissioner of Revenue office. To process your application, we ask that you call for an appointment, if possible.

Applications for new parcels to be enrolled in the land use program must be made by November 1 of the preceding year for which land use taxation is sought. (Late applications can be accepted up until December 31 with payment of a late filing fee of $10.00 per parcel.)

If you purchase a parcel that is already enrolled in the land use program, you must notify the Land Use Office within sixty (60) days of purchase to continue in the program.

You must file a new application any time there is a change in acreage or change in use of a tract under land use. This application must be filed within sixty (60) days of the change.

All persons listed on the deed should sign the application. In the event there has been a death, illness, etc. that prevents anyone from signing, a copy of the legal documentation designating Power of Attorney, right of survivorship, etc. also needs to be submitted.

Application Approval

Approval of all applications is made by the Land Use Coordinator or Commissioner of the Revenue based on the use of the parcel, documentation submitted, acreage, etc. In some instances, you may be required to submit additional information before an application can be processed. If at any time it is determined that the parcel does not meet the requirements necessary to be taxed under the land use program, it will be removed from the program and may be subject to a roll-back tax.

Acceptance for the land use program does not prevent sale or transfer of property. Whole or partial tracts which have been sold or bought can qualify for land use assessment as long as they meet the land use taxation standards.

Fees

A separate application must be filed for each tract listed on the tax rolls. An application fee of $25.00 per parcel through five parcels (maximum $125.00) will be charged. Additional parcels can be enrolled with no fees due. Any time the use of the land or the acreage changes, a new application must be filed and a new $25.00 fee will be charged for each change.

When your parcels have been under land use assessment for a period of 6 years, the original fees will again become due.

No fee will be refunded on parcels removed from the program nor will fees be refunded for applications denied.

New applications are to be filed by November 1 of the year preceding the year for which land use taxation is sought. (Late applications can be accepted up until December 31 with payment of a late filing fee of $10.00 per parcel.)

Agricultural/Horticultural Income Tax Documentation & Lease Certifications

Those who are in land use under agricultural and horticultural must submit a copy of their Federal Income Tax Schedule C (Business) or Schedule F (Profit or Loss from Farming) EACH YEAR with their annual revalidation forms.

If you do not file one of these schedules and wish to be in the land use program, you will be required to submit a Lease Certification stating the name and phone number of the person/persons who are tending or leasing the land. A copy of the Lease Certification can be obtained from the Land Use Office.

Change in Use

If you make one or more of the following changes, you must contact this office within sixty (60) days to discuss re-application, fees, and possible roll-back taxes. These changes include but are not limited to:

  • A change in the use of the land or removal of qualifying livestock.
  • If you sell or quitclaim any interest to another party by deed.
  • Transfer any acreage by a Deed of Gift.
  • Acquire additional land by deed, will or boundary line settlement/agreement.
  • Survey or re-survey the property boundaries or vacate property lines.
  • Rezone the property.
  • Erect a dwelling or place a manufactured home on your property.
  • The landowner transfers or sells less than the minimum acreage required to qualify for land use taxation as agricultural or forest land. (If the remaining acreage is not enough to qualify, it is also subject to roll-back taxes and comes out of the program
  • The landowner changes the use of the property to a non-qualifying use.
  • The roll-back tax occurs because the tax dollars saved under the land use program are only a deferment based on the use of the land.
  • Roll-back taxes consist of the difference between the land use value assessment and the fair market value assessment for a period of up to six (6) years plus simple interest per year on that sum. The roll-back tax is assessed against the person who changes the land to a non-qualifying use.

Failure to contact the Land Use Office within sixty (60) days after recording one or more of the above transactions may result in the parcel being disqualified from the land use program. Roll-back taxes may also apply.

Revalidation

Applications must be revalidated annually to continue in the program. There is no fee except for those who have a 6 year revalidation fee due.

Revalidation forms will be mailed to you in the fall of each year showing the acreage and use of the land as the land use records show it on Jan.1 of that year. The forms should be reviewed and any changes noted in writing on the forms.

All persons listed on the deed should sign the revalidation form. In the event there has been a death, illness, etc. that prevents anyone from signing, a copy of the legal documentation designating Power of Attorney, right of survivorship, etc. also needs to be submitted.

It is the landowner’s responsibility to see that revalidation forms, lease certifications, Schedule F’s, etc. are signed and returned to the Land Use Office by the deadline to continue in the program. These documents must be returned no later than November 1 to avoid a late filing penalty of $10.00 per parcel. State Law and the County Ordinance do not allow for revalidations to be accepted after the December 31 deadline. If not received by December 31, the parcels will be removed from the land use program for the following year and taxed at full fair market value. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Roll-Back Taxes

Real estate which is being taxed as land use will be subject to additional taxes known as roll-back taxes if

  • The landowner transfers or sells less than the minimum acreage required to qualify for land use taxation as agricultural or forest land. (If the remaining acreage is not enough to qualify, it is also subject to roll-back taxes and comes out of the program.)
  • The landowner changes the use of the property to a non-qualifying use.
  • The roll-back tax occurs because the tax dollars saved under the land use program are only a deferment based on the use of the land.

Roll-back taxes consist of the difference between the land use value assessment and the fair market value assessment for a period of up to six (6) years plus simple interest per year on that sum. The roll-back tax is assessed against the person who changes the land to a non-qualifying use.

Property can be withdrawn from the land use program without penalty at any time; however, it will remain subject to possible roll-back taxes for up to six (6) years if the use or acreage changes.

Real estate which is being taxed as land use will be subject to additional taxes known as roll-back taxes if

Property can be withdrawn from the land use program without penalty at any time; however, it will remain subject to possible roll-back taxes for up to six (6) years if the use or acreage changes.

Real Estate

The taxes on a parcel in the land use program must be paid in a timely manner. If on June 1 of any year, the taxes for the prior year are delinquent, the parcel must be removed from the program and taxed at the fair market value.

Your Role

Your role in the Land Use Assessment Program is a very important one. You must “USE” your land according to the State and County prescribed standards and requirements. It is the landowner’s responsibility to see that all information concerning the use of your land is current and that all paperwork is properly and timely filed with the Land Use Office. The Land Use Office is here to assist you in obtaining land use taxation; however, we are not responsible for the gathering of qualifying data or for forms lost in the mail. Please notify us if you have a change of address so that you will receive all paperwork in a timely manner.

Questions

If you have questions about the program, please feel free to contact the Land Use Coordinator at 540-483-3084. Our office hours are 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday.

 

Contact Us

1255 Franklin Street | Rocky Mount, VA 24151
(540) 483-3030 | info@franklincountyva.gov
Copyright © 2017. All Rights Reserved.