The Clean and Green program was adopted to implement the constitutional amendment to preserve farmland through preferential property tax assessments. (Act 319)

 

Act 319 - Use Value Assessment Under Pennsylvania's

"Clean and Green Act"

Note: This discussion of Act 319 and its various legal and regulatory requirements is of a

general educational nature. It is not intended to be legal advice to the reader or to anyone else

regarding the law or how it will or could be applied to any given situation. If a person is interested

in obtaining legal advice concerning the Act or the regulations, the services of a competent

professional should be obtained. Only after a full discussion of a property owner’s individual

situation can legal advice be given in answer to questions about this law. This version of the

article was prepared in January, 2005 to reflect the changes in the Act that were made by Act 235

of 2004 which will become effective on February 6, 2005.

I. Introduction

Agriculture requires productive land to be a successful business. Therefore,

factors that influence land values create other financial pressures on agricultural

land owners in the form of rising prices to purchase or lease property. The cost

of necessary inputs rises. In addition to price increases, increases in land value

may be reflected in higher assessed valuations for property tax purposes. Higher

assessed values lead to higher taxes or higher land rents to cover a landlord’s

higher tax bills. In cases where the assessed valuation increases at a rate that is

greater than the rate of increase of income generated by the land, the owner

faces a situation of endlessly trying to generate more income to pay taxes on the

land. If the added income can not be generated, an appealing option is to sell

the land and seize the increased value it has.

In trying to find ways to relieve financial pressure caused by rising real estate

taxes and modest income from the land, one approach has been to consider the

productive capability of the land in determining its value for real estate tax and

other tax valuation situations, such as inheritance tax. Tying the land’s assessed

value to the value that it generates to the land owner is an important means of

addressing tax fairness or equity to the landowner who chooses to use the land

in agriculture, despite having other alternatives available. Alternatively, cost of

government services studies have shown that agricultural land generally pays

considerably more in taxes to local governments than it demands in the form of

services from such governments. If agricultural land is a net source of revenue

to local communities, should this situation be more equitably reflected in the way

that agricultural land is assessed for local tax purposes? Those who are

commercial farm operators are keenly aware of the productive capability of land

and the factors that influence it. If productive capability is considered in setting

value for particular purposes some financial relief is likely to be obtained.

Act 319 of 1974, commonly referred to as the "Clean and Green Act" is designed

to provide a method for a landowner who makes use of his or her land in one of

three qualifying uses to have the value of the land for property tax assessment

purposes determined on the basis of its use rather than on the basis of its fair

market value. This approach to determining the assessed valuation often yields

a lower value than fair market value and a lower tax bill results as the tax millage

rate is applied to a lower assessed value.

This publication is intended to address the principal questions about the

preferential assessment program adopted for Pennsylvania property owners.

These questions include:

a. What kinds of use can I make of my land and still qualify for this program?

b. How can I use my land that is preferentially assessed without incurring a roll

back tax?

c. What if the conditions are not met? Who is responsible to pay roll back

taxes?

d. How does a landowner obtain a preferential assessment?

II. Objectives of Act 319 of 1974

Several important points are needed to understand the background from which

the Act developed. First, Pennsylvania’s Constitution requires that all taxes be

uniform upon the same class of subjects. Therefore, a program that grants

preferential treatment to one class of taxpayers must address the mandate of

uniformity to survive a constitutional challenge.

Second, when the Clean and Green Act was proposed, Pennsylvania county

governments already had authority to enter into covenants with landowners to

lower property tax assessments in return for a landowner's willingness to restrict

use of their land. In return for the landowner's agreement to preserve the use of

the land in farming, forest, water supply or open space use, the county agreed to

take the covenant into consideration in determining the assessed value of land

subject to a covenant. If the agreement is broken by the landowner, whatever

real estate tax savings were realized in the five year period before the breach

would have to be repaid with interest.

If a landowner could realize a reduction in assessed valuation by restricting the

use of land, why was it necessary to develop another program designed to do the

same thing? According to Daugherty (1979) participation in these agreements

was minimal. One reason for this could be that participation was subject to

approval by county governments. If government chose not to participate, a

landowner had no recourse other than the political process or the ballot box. The

agreement with a county also left open the constitutional question of whether

uniformity of taxation is achieved.

Act 319 answers some of these concerns by giving the landowner the choice

whether to participate. A county government's willingness to participate in a

program to reduce real estate taxes is not a requirement. To answer the

constitutional questions, Act 319 was preceded by a constitutional amendment in

1973 that gives the General Assembly authority to pass laws that make special

provision for the taxation of land devoted to agricultural use or agricultural

reserve use. A prior constitutional amendment gives the General Assembly

authority to make special provisions for the taxation of land used as a forest

reserve. These authorizations remove the constitutional cloud of doubt that

these statutes can be challenged on uniformity of taxation grounds. As explained

below, participation under the Act 319 program is substantially greater than the

previous program. The reasons for the broader participation and the

geographical distribution of the participants will be discussed below.

III. History of Act 319

a. Passing Act 319

The House Bill that introduced the program was House Bill 1056. In the debate

on the bill, a number of key points were raised. The first is that, at times, farmers

who actively engage in agricultural production face serious financial pressures

that threaten their ability to remain in business. Second, farmers face

burdensome property taxes. Third, House Bill 1056 is to address financial

problems facing farmers. It does not create land use regulations or restrictions.

Interestingly, since adoption of the preferential assessment program in 1974, the

Pennsylvania Legislature has been very aggressive is seeking opportunities to

reinforce agriculture’s position in the state economy. Examples of such

legislative initiatives include the Agricultural Area Security Law, Protection of

Agricultural Operations From Nuisance Suits Under Certain Circumstances, the

Nutrient Management Act and the year 2000 amendments to the Municipalities

Planning Code. In each of these examples are found aggressive measures

designed to enhance the position of agricultural land owners relative to the

threats and problems they face from a variety of sources. Considering all of these

measures as a unit, the position of agriculture in Pennsylvania has been

enhanced considerably.

Throughout the years the Act has been amended at various times, including

significant amendments in 1998 and 2004. The most recent amendment

occurred in December , 2004 when the Governor signed Act 235 of 2004 which

becomes effective on February 6, 2005. As described below, this Act has made

significant changes to the law so it is important to recognize the importance of

them.

b. The concept of a property’s “use value”

The concept of use value is considered to be the net return to the agricultural

landowner that is produced by use of the land asset. Calculation of this amount

follows an income approach to convert annual net income to an estimate of

present value. This calculation is directed toward the question, “What is the

present value of property that generates a known annual income”? Under the

income approach the value of an asset is determined by dividing the net income

that the asset generates by an interest rate. Net income is determined by

calculating an annual net income per acre after operating expenses are

deducted. In determining the operating expenses, neither interest nor principal

payments are included as expenses. Once the net return is calculated the

amount is divided by an interest rate to determine the property’s use value.

IV. Key Questions

a. Eligible Lands - use requirements

Land that is eligible to apply for an Act 319 preferential assessment is land that is

used in agriculture, as an agricultural reserve or as a forest reserve.

An agricultural use is one that uses the land in Pennsylvania to commercially

produce an agricultural commodity, which is broadly defined to include a variety

of plant, animal, forest, horticultural, aquacultural, floricultural, viticultural and

dairy products . A woodlot, an area of 10 acres or less that is stocked with trees

of any size that is contiguous to or part of land used in either agricultural or

agricultural reserve use is considered to be part of that qualifying use. Land that

is rented to another person and used to produce an agricultural commodity is

considered to be used in an agricultural use.

Agricultural reserve use includes noncommercial open space land used for

outdoor recreation or scenic enjoyment. Such land must be open to the public

without charge on a non-discriminatory basis. In this definition an important

qualifying condition is found in the term outdoor recreation. Outdoor recreation is

generally considered to include passive types of recreational land uses that do

not require building permanent structures or any change to the land which would

render the land incapable of being immediately converted to agricultural use.

Forest reserve use is the use of ten acres or more of land stocked by forest

trees of any size that are capable of producing timber or other wood products. In

the case of land used for agricultural purposes and forest reserve purpose,

farmstead land is included as part of the land in each of these uses. Forest

reserve land includes land that is rented to another person for the purpose of

producing timber or other wood products.

Farmstead land is land that is under and surrounds a residential structure or

farm building that supports a residence, such as a residential garage or

workshop. Farmstead land is considered part of the qualifying land under all

three of the qualifying use categories and is preferentially assessed. If land is

classified as agricultural land, farmstead land is to be assessed at agricultural

use value. If land is classed as agricultural reserve or forest reserve land, the

farmstead land will be assessed at agricultural use value if either 1) a majority of

land in the application is enrolled as agricultural use land; or 2) in the situation

where non-contiguous tracts of land are enrolled under one application, a

majority of land on the tract where the farmstead land is located is enrolled as

agricultural use land. In trying to interpret the implications of this specific change,

it seems that one situation that is likely to be covered by this amendment is

where owners of 10 plus acre lots use the agricultural reserve classification to

gain the advantage of preferential assessment of the lot and its farmstead land.

Under the amended provision, the farmstead land in an agricultural reserve

situation would not be assessed at agricultural use values without meeting the

“majority of land” requirements described above. If it cannot meet the

requirement then the implication would seem to be that the land is to be

assessed at normal, fair market value terms. This will negate an opportunity for

these landowners to gain a lower assessed value on the farmstead portion of

their land.

County Commissioners may pass an ordinance to include farmstead land in the

total use value for land in agricultural reserve or forest reserve uses, but the

ordinance must be uniformly applied to all land in the county where these uses

apply. County Commissioners therefore have a choice of how they want to treat

agricultural reserve and forest reserve farmstead land.

As a result of the 2004 amendments an owner of agricultural or forest reserve

land who permits or authorizes a recreational activity on the tract will not lose

eligibility for the program because of this recreational use. The Act defines these

uses to include, among other things, typical activities such as hunting, fishing,

swimming, recreational and agritainment activities. Agritainment activities are

defined as farm-related tourism or farm-related entertainment activities that are

permitted or authorized in return for a fee on agricultural land for recreational or

educational purposes. Some examples of “agritainment” activities include corn

mazes, hay mazes, farm tours, and hay rides. This is a significant change from

the prior Act.

b. Eligible land - Size requirements

Land eligible under the agricultural use category must be devoted to such use

for three years preceding the application and be either ten contiguous acres or

more in area or have an anticipated yearly gross income of two thousand

dollars or more from the production of an agricultural commodity. The

county assessor may require a landowner to demonstrate each year that the

anticipated yearly gross income from production of an agricultural commodity on

the enrolled land is at least $2,000. This requirement will be met each year

unless circumstances beyond the landowner’s control prevent it.

If a landowner has several uses on a single tract of land but only some uses

qualify for preferential assessment treatment, the landowner may file an

application to have only the portion that qualifies assessed under the Act. In

such a case, the portion to which the preferential assessment applies must meet

the minimum acreage requirement or the gross income alternative in the case of

land used in agriculture. In the case of land devoted to either an agricultural

reserve or forest reserve use, the land must be ten acres or more in area.

A tract of land used in one of the three qualifying uses may be enrolled for

preferential assessment despite the fact that it does not meet the minimum

requirements for eligibility if the tract of land is part of the same operational unit

as another tract that has been enrolled for preferential assessment by the same

land owner .

Neither the agricultural reserve nor the forest reserve use have a gross income

alternative to the ten acre minimum acreage requirement.

c. Use of preferentially assessed land

Once land is in the program, the landowner is obligated to continue use of the

land in the use which qualifies the land for the program. A landowner can change

from one qualifying use to another qualifying use or switch use to a use other

than a qualifying use. There are several important considerations to address

before making this decision. These considerations are discussed below in

paragraph d. If a change in use occurs, the land is sold to a new owner, or any

portion of the land is divided and sold or given to another the landowner agrees

to notify the county assessor thirty days prior to the proposed change.

Under the Act agricultural reserve land is open to the public for noncommercial

recreational use. Therefore, owners of such land are concerned about limits or

restrictions that can be placed on this public use. Landowners can place

reasonable restrictions on public access to preferentially assessed agricultural

reserve land. Examples of such restrictions include limiting access to pedestrian

traffic only, prohibiting certain types of activities, prohibiting the use of firearms,

prohibiting entry where harm or damage may occur or where hazardous

conditions exist, and before entering an owner’s land, the public is obligated to

notify the landowner. If a hazardous condition exists on preferentially assessed

land, a landowner can notify the county assessor that access to the hazardous

area will be denied. Land that is classified in the agricultural or forest reserve

use category have opportunities to engage in recreational activities

d. Failure to continue the qualifying use - roll back tax

Generally, if a qualifying use is abandoned by the property owner the

abandonment triggers a roll-back tax on the preferentially assessed property. An

exception to this result applies when use of the property is abandoned as a result

of the property’s condemnation by a public agency or a voluntary sale of the

property to an agency that has condemnation authority made in lieu of the

condemnation action. In such cases roll-back taxes will not be applied to either

the land that is condemned or sold in lieu of condemnation or to the remaining

preferentially assessed land. The calculation of a roll-back tax is discussed below

in section V.

Despite this general result when the qualifying use is abandoned, if the use is

abandoned in order to complete certain transfers, the taxing body may choose

not to accept payment of the roll-back tax. Transfers that are eligible for this

special treatment include grants, or donations to school districts, municipalities,

counties, volunteer fire companies, volunteer ambulance service companies, not

for profit corporations that are treated as tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of

the Internal Revenue Code and religious organizations. For a transfer to a not

for profit corporation to be given this treatment, prior to accepting ownership of

the land, the corporation must enter into an agreement with the municipality in

which the land is located guaranteeing that the land will be used exclusively for

recreational purposes open to the general public free of charge. If the

corporation changes the use of the land, or charges an admission price or other

fee for use and enjoyment of it, roll back taxes and interest which would have

otherwise been due will be immediately due and payable.

For landowners who are in the preferential assessment program, the possibility

of a roll back tax is always a concern. The 2004 amendments address this

concern by providing that no roll-back tax will be due and no breach of the

preferential assessment will be considered to have occurred if the owner of the

land has permitted or authorized a recreational activity to be conducted on any

portion of the land, whether or not a fee is imposed to perform the activity. The

description of recreational activity in the preceding paragraph has equal

application to this situation also. Two important conditions apply to this roll back

tax exception. The first is that it applies only if the preferentially assessed land is

in the agricultural or forest reserve categories. The second condition is that the

recreational activity performed cannot render the land incapable of being

immediately converted to agricultural use if the land qualifies in the agricultural

use classification or permanently render the land incapable of producing timber

or other wood products on land that qualifies as forest reserve land. Neither

“immediate” conversion nor “permanent” incapacity are defined so common

sense interpretation of these words must be made on a case by case basis. The

objective seems to be to allow recreational activities that can be carried out

without making permanent changes to the land or building facilities that would

hamper conversion of the land to the qualifying use.

e. Transfers of preferentially assessed land: distinguishing between

“Separations” and "Split-offs”

While land is in the program, a landowner faces certain restrictions on the

transfer of the land. The Act distinguishes between two types of transfer, one

described as a "separation" and the other described as a "split-off." A separation

of land is the division of a preferentially assessed tract of land into two or more

tracts of land, each of which meets the use and the size or gross income

requirements of the act. In essence, each tract is able to apply for and obtain a

preferential assessment in its own right since its use is one of the three eligible

uses and the acreage or gross income requirements are met. Separation of a

preferentially assessed tract of land does not trigger the loss of the tax benefit if

the owners of the separated tracts continue the qualified use. If the owner of a

separated tract changes the qualified use, the owner faces the obligation to pay

roll-back taxes on the separated tract and the original tract from which it came if

the change in use is made within seven years after the separation.

Abandonment of the qualified use more than seven years after the separation

subjects only the separated tract to roll-back taxes.

A "split off" on the other hand is a division of a tract of preferentially assessed

land into two or more tracts, the use of which on one or more tracts does not

meet the requirement of qualified use or the size or gross income requirement. If

a tract of land is split off from a preferentially assessed tract, this transfer

generally subjects the tract split off and the entire parcel from which it came to

roll-back taxes. If the split-off tract occurs through condemnation, there is no

liability for roll-back taxes.

Two other types of transfer of preferentially assessed land do not result in any

roll-back tax. Preferentially assessed land that is transferred to a nonprofit

corporation for use as a cemetery will not trigger roll-back tax if there are at least

ten acres of preferentially assessed land that remain after the transfer. In

addition, preferentially assessed land that is transferred, or on which an

easement or right of way has been given to a nonprofit corporation will not trigger

a roll-back tax if the land involved is not more than 20 feet in width; it is used for

non-motorized passive recreational use; the land is available to the public without

charge, and at least ten acres of preferentially assessed land remains after the

transfer is complete.

f. Later transfers that have limited roll-back tax liability consequences

The Act allows certain transfers to be made with liability for roll-back taxes limited

only to the transferred tract and not the entire tract. These transfers include

annual split-off of tracts of up to two acres for residential, agricultural or forest

reserve use and the construction of a residential dwelling to be occupied by the

owner of the split-off tract. If the preferentially assessed land is located in a

community that imposes a minimum lot size requirement of up to three acres, the

two acre limit can be increased to a three acre size in order to comply with the

local lot size requirement. Up to ten percent of the original tract under the

preferential assessment or ten acres, whichever is less, can be split-off under

this provision. In the case of any such transfers, roll-back taxes apply only to the

split-off tract. The remaining portion of the land retains the preferential

assessment if it continues to meet the requirements of the Act.

A second situation where a split-off may be made without triggering roll-back

taxes on the entire tract is where the owner of the preferentially assessed land

dies and the property is separated among the owner's beneficiaries. If the

beneficiaries fall into the category of Class A beneficiaries for inheritance

purposes (i.e. a person's parents, grandparents, spouse, children, stepchildren,

grandchildren or spouse of a child), the split-off to the beneficiaries does not

subject the land to roll-back taxes. If a beneficiary later changes the use of a

split-off tract, that beneficiary faces roll-back taxes on the tract of land that he or

she owns without causing roll-back taxes to be imposed on any other tract. If the

land that is divided to an individual heir does not meet any of the size or use

requirements of the Act, the preferential assessment of that land ends, but no roll

back taxes are imposed on the land that is divided to the heir or to any other part

of the original tract of land.

A third situation involves the use of two acres of preferentially assessed land for

the direct commercial sale of agriculturally related products and services or as

part of a rural enterprise incidental to the operational unit. To qualify for this

exception, the commercial enterprise must not interfere with production of

agricultural commodities on the remaining portion of the land and the activity

must be owned by the landowner or persons who are Class A beneficiaries of the

landowner for inheritance tax purposes. When such a use occurs, roll-back

taxes are imposed on the portion of the preferentially assessed tract devoted to

commercial activity. The remainder of the tract is not subject to roll-back taxes.

The commercial activity must be owned by the special class of people described

above and an assessment of the inventory of the goods being sold must verify

ownership by the qualifying people.

A fourth situation is where owners of tracts of land subject to preferential

assessment lease up to one-half of an acre of preferentially assessed land for

placement of one wireless or cellular communication tower. To qualify under this

situation the leased land must not exceed one-half acre in area, the land does

not have more than one tower, the land is accessible and the tract of land is not

sold or subdivided. In this case, roll back taxes will be imposed on the tract of

leased land and its assessed value will be adjusted to its fair market value. The

remaining land will continue to be preferentially assessed if the qualifying use

requirements are met.

V. Calculation of Roll-Back Taxes

The major consequence to a landowner who obtains a preferential assessment

and then changes the land use to a non-qualifying use, who conducts activities

on the land that are not authorized or who “splits off” a portion of preferentially

assessed land, other than as part of a condemnation, is imposition of a roll-back

tax. This tax is the difference between the taxes paid or payable on the basis of

the preferential assessment and the taxes that would have been paid or payable

had the land been valued, assessed and taxed as other land. The rollback tax

covers this difference in the current tax year, the year of change, and six of the

previous tax years for a total of up to seven years. In addition to the tax, simple

interest at the annual rate of six percent is imposed on each year's roll-back tax.

Land preferentially assessed for more than seven years is subject to roll-back

taxes for the current year and the six most recent tax years.

Roll-back taxes are due on the date of change of use or other loss of the

preferential assessment status and are an obligation of the owner of the land at

the time the change in use or other loss of preferential assessment occurs.

Unpaid roll-back taxes are a lien on property and are collectible in the same

manner as other delinquent taxes.

Payment of a roll-back tax does not invalidate preferential assessment on any

land that continues to meet the eligibility and use requirements, but at the time

that roll-back taxes are imposed on the entire preferentially assessed tract of

land the owner can provide written notice to the assessor of the owner’s intent to

terminate the preferential assessment in the future

VI. Application Procedure

a. General

Applications for participation in the Act 319 program are filed by landowners with

their county board of assessment appeals on or before June 1 of the year prior to

the year in which the preferential assessment will be applicable. Landowners

may apply for preferential assessment of eligible land in any county, regardless

of where the owner resides and also regardless of whether the owner resides on

the land described in the application. In a year when a reassessment is

implemented, the application must be submitted within 30 days of the final order

of the county board for assessment appeals or by October 15 of the same year,

whichever date is sooner and regardless of whether judicial review of the order is

requested.

Application forms were developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

and these forms must be used. In completing the application the landowner must

have common ownership of all land described in the application and must include

the entire contiguous area used by the owner for agricultural or forest reserve

purposes, although only a portion of the land qualifies for a preferential

assessment. Any portions of the tract that are not used for a qualifying use will

be ineligible for preferential assessment and will be assessed on a fair market

value basis. County boards of assessment appeal may impose a fee for

processing an application, but the fee may not be greater than $50.

b. Contiguous tracts

A contiguous area consists of all portions of land that are part of one operational

unit despite the fact that the portions might be divided by streams, roads, bridges

or whether or not the tracts are given individual property identifiers. When

applying for preferential assessment, a landowner may not apply for preferential

assessment of less than all of a contiguous tract that is described in the deed to

the property. Therefore, the owner does not have the option to enroll less than

all of the contiguous tract. If two or more tracts are not contiguous to each other

and are described in a single deeds, the owner may exclude from the application

for preferential assessment one of the noncontiguous tracts. If the non

contiguous tracts are described in separate deeds, the owner can choose

whether to seek preferential assessment for some or all of the tracts.

c. Determining the use value

After receiving the application, the county board of assessment appeals

processes it and determines the value of the land in its qualifying use. The

Department of Agriculture will annually determine land use categories and

provide county assessors with use values for each land use category. The

Department will provide these to county assessors by May 1 of each year. In

determining these values, the Department will consult appropriate sources of

information and apply the income approach for asset valuation.

In determining use values, county assessors will calculate a total use value for

qualifying land. In making this calculation, the assessor will utilize the USDANatural

Resource Conservation Service Agricultural Land Capability

Classification System and other information available from USDA - Economic

Research Service, Penn State University, and the Pennsylvania Agricultural

Statistical Service. A county assessor may establish use values for land use

categories that are less than the use values established by the Department for

the same land use categories. In applying the use values selected by the

assessor, the assessor shall apply these use values uniformly.

In addition, the county assessor maintains records concerning the act, calculates

roll-back taxes, gives notice of the amounts due to interested parties, and files

liens for unpaid taxes. The landowner's agreement to provide advance notice of

a change in land use enables the county assessor to calculate the roll-back tax

due, and notify the parties and the taxing authorities.

Approved applications for preferential assessment are recorded in the office of

the recorder of deeds in a preferential assessment docket. If the preferential

assessment is breached, that is also recorded in the docket. If a landowner

previously entered into an agreement with the county to restrict use of the

owner's land in return for consideration of the restriction in valuing the property,

the county will, at the landowner's option, renegotiate the agreement to make it

conform to the provisions of Act 319.

d. Terminating preferential assessment

Once approved, participation in the preferential assessment program continues

under the initial application until a change in land use takes place. A landowner

may not unilaterally terminate or waive the preferential assessment of enrolled.

During this period, the preferential assessment figure may change to reflect

changes in the use value of the property. Payment of roll-back taxes and

interest under the act will not result in termination of the preferential assessment

of any portion of the preferentially assessed land

If a split-off or change in use occurs that results in imposing a roll-back tax on

the entire preferentially assessed parcel of land, the owner of the preferentially

assessed land may provide written notice to the county assessor expressing the

owner’s desire to terminate the preferential assessment for future years.

e. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s role

In addition to the role of the landowner and the county assessor in the Act 319

program, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture uses information from

county assessors to issue its annual summary of participation. This summary

provides the best data currently available on the degree of participation in each

county. Annual summaries are prepared in April for the prior year's participation.

Copies of the summary are available upon request by writing to Farmland

Protection, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, 2301 North Cameron Street,

Harrisburg, PA 17110-9408.

VII. Civil Penalties

A county board of assessment appeals may assess a civil penalty of not more

than $100 against a person for each violation of the Act or the regulations.

Action that triggers liability for roll-back taxes and interest does not, in its own

right, constitute a violation of the act or the regulations. When a civil penalty is

assessed the county board will provide written notice of assessing the penalty to

the property owner and the owner will have the right to appeal the assessment of

the penalty.

VIII. Participation in Clean and Green Program, 1981-2002

In this period the number of counties in which land is preferentially assessed

grew from 32 counties in 1981 to 52 counties in 2003. The total amount of land

preferentially assessed under all categories of land use has also grown

dramatically from 543,707 acres in 1981 to more than 6,800,000 acres in 2003.

On the basis of incomplete information that appears in the 2003 report of

participation in the program, of the three qualifying land uses, agriculture is the

largest qualifying land use and agricultural reserve use is the smallest qualifying

land use category. In 2003, more than 800 landowner violations were cited by

county assessors.

(January, 2005)

John C. Becker, J.D.

Professor of Agricultural Law and Economics

The Pennsylvania State University

207 Armsby Building

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: (814) 863-0575

Fax: (814) 865-3746

E-Mail: jcb1@psu.edu

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