Albemarle County’s Land Use Re-Validation Progam

According to Albemarle County, as of 1 October 2008, there were "4,981 tax parcels in the Use Value Tax Program."

I haven’t seen much recent discussion about the potential impacts of the land use re-validation program in Albemarle County. The Free Enterprise Forum discussed it last year:

As over 60% of the property in Albemarle County is in land use, the meeting was well attended.

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors then considered the Land Use Revalidation Program.  This program would require land owners receiving land use taxation to revalidate their land use every 2 years.  County Assessor Bruce Woodzell walked the Supervisors through the potential implementation steps for the program.  The supervisors each expressed their desire to keep the forms simple but to adequate to confirm the use.

The Daily Progress reported recently on the programs’s impending implementation:

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance last year — designed to make sure residents aren’t abusing the county’s land-use taxation program — which allows county officials to look over the shoulders of landowners who claim tax benefits for rural, undeveloped land.

Applicants will have until Sept. 1 to send their revalidation forms back to the county without a penalty. The forms could be sent to the county between Sept. 2 and Dec. 5 with a $125 fee. If the revalidation forms aren’t received by Dec. 5, participants will be purged from the program and required to pay back the money saved from the tax benefits over the past five years, plus interest, which could total thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.

Have you seen the Land Use Revalidation form? I am curious as to what small rural landowners’ thoughts are regarding this program. I have talked to a couple folks who are debating selling their land in order to move out of Albemarle due to this new regulation. How widespread is this sentiment?

The Ordinance states in part:

            C.         Continuation of valuation, assessment and taxation under this article shall depend on the continuance of the real estate in the use for which classification is granted, continued payment of taxes as referred to in Virginia Code § 58.1-3235, continued revalidation every second tax year as provided in subsection (D) below, and compliance with the other requirements of this article and Article 4 of Chapter 32 of Title 58.1 of the Code of Virginia, and not upon continuance of the same owner of title to the land.

            D.        A parcel’s eligibility for use value assessment shall be revalidated every two years during the second tax year of each two-year revalidation cycle.  A revalidation form shall be filed with the local assessing officer on or before September 1 of the year preceding the two-year period for which the revalidation is sought, on forms prepared by the county.  A separate revalidation form shall be filed for each parcel receiving a use value assessment.  Late filing of a revalidation form may be made on or before December 5 of the year preceding the two-year period for which the revalidation is sought, upon payment of a late filing fee of one hundred twenty-five dollars ($125.00). 

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2 Comments

  1. Daniel August 4, 2009 at 14:16

    I’m no farmer, but I imagine that everyone in the agriculture or forestry industry keeps sufficient records to fill out this form without any trouble.

    Reply
  2. Dirt Worshipper August 5, 2009 at 15:23

    This is pretty standard practice in many areas. On my family’s farm in another locality we have had to document our agricultural use, and it really isn’t a problem. It’s really a short form as such things go, and if you really are farming then you’ve got documentation to back that up. I think the issue in Albemarle County is that there are alot of people who aren’t actively “farming” that either bought really large parcels under the assumption that they’d pay little tax on them, or are frankly speculating on land (which is fine, but taxpayers shouldn’t subsidize that kind of investment).

    If those people sell, frankly the market will be healthier for it in the long run. The goal of land-use taxation was to make farmland affordable to farmers, but what it has done instead is artificially inflate property values, and encourage people to buy more land than they needed because much of it was essentially “tax free”.

    In fact, I’ve heard a really troubling stories several times from different people that they were sold a peice of land that had land use taxation and their realtor never bothered to explain the program to them. In some cases, that meant that since they’d bought subdivided land that they (as the person who changed the use) immediately had to pay five years back taxes. In other cases, people have been led to believe that land-use taxation simply “came with the property”, and it was never explained that it required them to actually be farming the land. I think it’s really a matter of ethics that realtors explain this kind of thing to people who buy properties with land use, and I almost wonder it it should be required somehow.

    Reply

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