Special Assessment Program
Title 58.1, Chapter 32, Article 4, of the Code of Virginia provides for the assessment of land based on use value rather than market value. This program is designed to promote the preservation of land for public benefit.
The State Land Evaluation Advisory Council (SLEAC) establishes the requirements for qualification and use values. There are 4 classifications which real estate may qualify for a use value assessment:
- Agriculture use: The qualifying land area must be a minimum of five acres and must be devoted currently and for the five previous consecutive years to the production for sale of plant or animal products useful to the public. Crop and/or livestock production must be primarily for commercial use. Documentation supporting the agriculture operation must be submitted each year.
- Horticulture use: The qualifying land area must be a minimum of five acres and must be devoted currently and for the five previous consecutive years to the production for sale of nursery, cut flowers, orchards, vineyards, or small fruit products. Documentation supporting the horticulture operation, such as a federal income tax return or receipt verifying gross sales, must be submitted each year.
- Forest use: The qualifying land area must be a minimum of 20 acres. The land must be growing a commercial forest crop that is physically accessible for harvesting when mature. The owner must certify that the real estate is being used in a planned program of timber management and soil conservation practices. A Planned Program of Timber Management prepared by a professional forester must be submitted to show certification of intent by the owner. This is a list of foresters.
- Open space use: Specific standards include providing or preserving for parks or recreational purposes, conservation of land or other natural resources, floodways, historic or scenic areas, and assisting in the shaping of the character, direction and timing of community development or for the public interest. The owner of real estate qualifying under open space must do one of the following:
- Record an open space agreement, which is a binding accord between the landowner and Chesterfield County as prescribed under State Code 58.1-3233. The qualifying land area must be a minimum of 20 acres and conform to the local land use plan or be on the visual resource list.
- Record a perpetual easement in which no minimum acreage amount is required.
To participate in the Special Assessment Program, the landowner must submit an application for taxation on the basis of use value to the Real Estate Assessor’s office. A separate application must be filed for each parcel of land to be included in the special assessment program.
No application for assessment based on use will be accepted or approved if the tax on the land affected is delinquent. If real estate taxes become delinquent while the real estate has a special assessment, the real estate will be removed from the land use program.
- On or before Nov. 1: $10 application fee
- Nov. 2-Dec. 31: $25 late filing fee
- Jan. 1 to mid-February: $50 extension fee
All fees are non-refundable. Applications submitted by the Dec. 31 deadline are effective for the following tax year.
Revalidation of an approved application must be filed annually to continue the real estate in the land use program for the following year.
- On or before Nov. 1: No charge
- Nov. 2-Dec. 5: $25 late filing fee
Real estate that no longer qualifies for the land use program is subject to a rollback tax. The rollback tax is calculated on the difference between the tax levied, based on a use value assessment, and the tax that would have been levied, based on a market value assessment. The rollback tax will equal the sum of the deferred tax for current and each of the five most recent tax years plus interest.
Any change in use must be reported to the Real Estate Assessor’s office within 60 days of the date of change to avoid having a penalty applied to the rollback tax. Examples of change in use include:
- Land ceases to be in production
- Selling off land leaving an insufficient amount of acreage to qualify