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Chapter 61 Programs

Enrollment of land under the Forest Lands, Agriculture Lands and Recreation Lands Assessment Acts - General Laws Ch. 61, 61A, and 61B - generates a significant local property tax benefit to the landowner, but the land can be withdrawn from the programs at any time, sometimes with penalty. Because the land is not permanently protected, landowners also do not enjoy federal income tax or estate tax benefits. For many landowners, the pressure of increasing property taxes forces a decision to develop land. Ch. 61 becomes a worthwhile approach for the large landowner who is considering permanent protection at a future date, but needs to ease the local property tax burden in the short term.

Agricultural land classification Chapter 61A is intended to promote farming and horticultural land use by offering significant local tax benefits to property owners willing to make a long term commitment to farming.

Requirements: qualifying land must have at least five contiguous acres under common ownership, be used primarily to raise or grow animals, fruits, vegetables, flowers, trees, nursery or greenhouse products, be farmed for two fiscal years prior to the year of classification under 61A, and have produced minimum sales of $500 for the first five acres, increasing for each additional acre of productive land being enrolled. Under Chapter 61A, the landowner stills pays annual property tax, but the tax is based on the rate for agricultural or horticultural land, based on the range of values published annually by the state.

Deadline for applying to the local assessors for 61A classification is October 1 of the year before the start of the fiscal year for which taxation as classified land is sought.