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This entry was published on 2014-09-22
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SECTION 480
Forest and reforested lands
Real Property Tax (RPT) CHAPTER 50-A, ARTICLE 4, TITLE 2
§ 480. Forest and reforested lands. 1. In view of the benefits to the
state and the municipal corporations therein which will accrue through
the reforestation of idle lands, eligible tracts of forest land may be
granted an exemption from taxation as hereinafter provided.

2. As used in this section:

(a) "Eligible tract" means a tract of forest land of at least fifteen
acres which has been planted with an average of not less than eight
hundred trees per acre, or which has been underplanted with an average
of not less than three hundred trees per acre, or upon which the
majority of the mature timber has been removed in such a manner as to
insure a crop of merchantable timber or pulpwood or upon which, at the
time of classification, there is an immature stand sufficient to produce
such a crop within thirty years. Any part of such tract covered by
water, or consisting of a bog or ledge, or otherwise unsuitable for
planting or underplanting, shall be excluded in determining the average
number of trees planted or underplanted per acre.

(b) "Forest land" includes not only lands on which there is tree
growth, but also lands which are best adapted to tree growth.

(c) "Planted" means the setting of suitable forest tree species.

(d) "Underplanted" means the setting of suitable forest tree species
upon land that at the time of planting has some natural forest growth.

(e) "Immature stand" means trees which are left primarily for forest
crop production after the removal of a majority of the mature stand.

3. (a) Eligible tracts shall be separately assessed for purposes of
taxation upon the basis of the value of the land, including the value of
any buildings or structures thereon, but excluding the value of such
planted or underplanted trees or natural reproduction. The assessment of
an eligible tract shall be no higher than the valuation of similar lands
without substantial forest growth situated in the same town and at no
time shall it exceed the valuation fixed at the time the application for
classification is filed as hereinafter provided, except that such
assessment may be increased or decreased without regard to the
provisions of this subdivision to reflect a change in level of
assessment on the assessment roll of the assessing unit, as provided in
title two of article twelve of this chapter.

(b) The commissioner shall certify a change in level of assessment
factor subject to the provisions of title two of article twelve of this
chapter.

(c) Such land shall be so assessed so long as the forest growth shall
remain uncut. Upon the removal of the forest growth, it shall be
assessed without regard to the provisions of this section.

4. The owner of an eligible tract may file with the assessors of the
town in which such tract is located a verified application for
classification under this section. Application shall be made in
duplicate on forms furnished by the conservation department, which shall
contain a description of the land sufficient to identify the tract and
the necessary information as to the planting or underplanting or natural
reproduction. Upon the filing of such application, the assessors shall
send a copy thereof to the conservation department for its approval or
disapproval. If the conservation department approves the application, it
shall file certificates of approval, classifying such tract as forested
or reforested land, with the assessors and with the county clerk of the
county in which the tract is situated. The county clerk shall record
such certificates in the book of miscellaneous records. All tracts so
classified shall be subject to the provisions of this section and the
obligations thereof shall devolve upon and the benefits thereof inure to
the owner, his successors or assigns. The state and its political
subdivisions shall also be bound thereby.

5. Whenever any cutting of the forest growth on any such tract of
forest land is proposed, the owner shall give not less than thirty days'
notice to the assessors and shall pay as a tax to the supervisor of the
town in which such land is situated, six per centum of the stumpage
value of the timber when cut, which shall be assessed by the assessors
within such thirty-day period. Except as otherwise provided herein, such
assessment and tax shall be treated in all respects the same as an
assessment and tax on the land and such tax shall be paid before the
removal of such timber from the premises so classified. Such tax shall
be a lien upon the cut timber and upon the lands so classified until
paid and may be enforced by an action in the name of the town in any
court of competent jurisdiction. It shall be a misdemeanor for any
person to remove the timber from such premises before the tax is paid.
Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this subdivision, the owner
of any land so classified may annually cut for his own use, free of tax,
wood or timber from such land to a stumpage value not in excess of
twenty-five dollars and may also, with the approval of the conservation
department, make thinnings for the improvement of the forest growth.

6. Two-thirds of any tax received pursuant to this section shall be
distributed to the town and one-third to the school district or
districts, or portions thereof, within the town in which such tract is
situated. If such tract is situated in more than one school district,
wholly or partly within such town, the several school districts or
portions thereof within the town shall share in the amount allocated to
the school districts in the proportion that the number of acres in each
such school district or portion thereof within the town bears to the
aggregate number of acres in all of such school districts or portions
thereof within the town. The amount allocated to the town shall be
retained by the supervisor for general town purposes and the amount
allocated for school district purposes shall forthwith be paid by the
supervisor to the proper fiscal officer of the school district or
districts.

7. An owner may withdraw his tract from such classification at any
time by payment of the tax of six per centum of the value of the
standing timber. If an owner desires to withdraw his tract from
classification he may agree with the assessors and supervisor as to the
stumpage value of the forest growth. In case of dispute as to the
stumpage value of wood or timber so classified and withdrawn from
classification, the six per centum value of the standing timber so
withdrawn, shall be assessed by the assessors within thirty days from
the time they are required so to do by the owner. Such assessment and
tax shall be treated in all respects the same as an assessment and tax
on the land, except as otherwise herein provided. The supervisor of the
town may maintain an action in any court of competent jurisdiction
against the owner of the land for the recovery of any tax due and unpaid
under this section.

8. When in the judgment of the conservation department any such
classified tract contains on the average forty thousand board feet of
merchantable soft wood per acre, or twenty thousand board feet of
merchantable hard wood per acre (or in case of mixtures of the two kinds
of woods, the relative percentages of such amounts), the department may
notify the owner that two years from the date of service of the notice,
the tax of six per centum of the stumpage value of the forest growth
will be due and that the tract will thereupon be withdrawn from
classification under this section. The conservation department shall
notify the supervisor to proceed to collect such tax when due, which
collection may be enforced by action or foreclosure of lien as herein
provided. The six per centum value of the timber contained on such tract
shall be assessed by the assessors within thirty days from the time they
are required so to do by the conservation department. Such assessment
and tax shall be treated in all respects the same as an assessment and
tax on the tract except that if such owner, within the two-year period,
cuts such timber as directed by the conservation department according to
the principles of practical forest management, the tax on the uncut
forest growth shall not become due and the tract shall not be withdrawn
from classification as long as the owner thereof shall continue to
manage the same in the manner prescribed by the conservation department.

9. No lands shall be classified pursuant to this section after
September first, nineteen hundred seventy-four. As to lands classified
pursuant to this section prior to such date, the owner thereof may elect
to continue to have such lands so classified, subject to all the duties,
responsibilities and privileges under this section, or he may elect to
make application for certification pursuant to section four hundred
eighty-a hereof.