Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Land Use Taxation Program in Albemarle County

Brandon Shulleeta reports, in yesterday's Daily Progress (the article is here), that Albemarle County is about to begin a broad review of property currently enrolled in the County's land-use program in order to ensure that the property actually qualifies under the applicable requirements.

Land use taxation is authorized under the Code of Virginia (at Section 58.1-3230, the text of which you can read here), and a majority of Virginia's counties have adopted land use programs. Owners of rural property which is being used for certain agricultural, horticultural, forestal or open spaces purposes are charged real estate taxes based on a lower "land use" assessment (rather than the property's "fair market" assessment). The taxes on the fair market assessment are deferred for as long as the property remains enrolled in the land use program, but if the property is removed from the program the property owners can be charged retroactively for back-taxes.

For the past several years, certain County officials (and members of the public) have argued that the County should monitor more closely its land use program in order to ensure that all property owners enrolled in it are actually using their property in accordance with the requirements.

Property owners enrolled in Albemarle's program can anticipate receiving "revalidation" forms in which they are asked a series of questions about how the property is used and are required to supply supporting evidence (such as farm receipts) for certain of their answers.


Albemarle County's web site is very comprehensive, and the County's summary of the land use program can be accessed here.