The Open Space Taxation Act, enacted in 1970, allows property owners to have their open space, farm and agricultural, and timberlands valued (and taxed) according to their current use rather than their highest and best use. The Act states that it is in the best interest of the State to maintain, preserve, conserve and otherwise continue in existence, adequate open space lands for the production of food, fibre and forest crops and to assure the use and enjoyment of natural resources and scenic beauty for the economic and social well-being of the State and its citizens.
The reduction in value enjoyed while enrolled in this program applies only to the land value. Any improvements (residences, outbuildings or permanent crops) are valued at full market value. Removal from this program, whether voluntary or from future ineligibility, may result in fees, penalties and interest charges. Be sure to know the rules prior to enrolling.
There are three categories of Open Space land. Each has its own specific requirements for eligibility for the Open Space program. The reduced taxable value is calculated differently for each category and rules for removal from the program are also different. The three categories are Open-Open, Farm and Agriculture and Timber.
The Open-Open category is reserved for land that can be used for the benefit of the Public. Land that is enrolled under this category is generally, privately owned, open land in its natural state that is accessible by the public to enjoy and explore.
Farm and Agriculture
The Farm and Agriculture category is reserved for land which is devoted primarily to the production of livestock or agricultural commodities for commercial purposes. There are specific income requirements which may apply.
The Timberlands category pertains to land which is primarily used for the commercial growth and harvesting of forest crops. A Forest Management Plan is required for the land in this category.
The Department of Revenue has a brochure (PDF) that should cover any questions you might. If you should have more questions, please call our office at 509-574-1100.