Photo courtesy of Bob
Nichols, USDA NRCS
Since productive farming generally requires owning or leasing
substantial amounts of land, property taxation and other land-related
fees have a large impact on the viability of agricultural operations.
In New York State, there are two main tax relief programs for
farmers: the Agricultural Assessment Program and the Farm School
Tax Credit Program. The Agricultural Assessment Program allows
owners of land used for agricultural production who satisfy certain
eligibility requirements to qualify for reduced property tax bills
by limiting the assessment of such land to its prescribed agricultural
assessment value, as opposed to the standard assessment of "100%
of fair market value." The Farm School Tax Credit Program
provides farmers a significant state personal income and business
tax credit for school property taxes paid on farmland and buildings.
In addition to these State programs, local governments may also
establish a tax abatement term easements program. Such a program
would offer reductions in property taxes to participating landowners
in return for term (e.g., 15 year) agricultural conservation easements.
This program could be used for smaller parcels of farmland that
are not eligible for the agricultural assessment program, as well
as other parcels that serve as a buffer for farmland.
Communities could also encourage the viability of farming operations
by waiving sewer and/or water district fees for agricultural lands
that were in active production prior to the formation of the sewer
or water districts. Residents in ambulance and fire protection
districts may also vote to exempt agricultural land from fees
associated with those services.