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Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the new changes to Ch. 61. Please note that although these changes are effective on March 22nd 2007, it is likely that some of the changes will take longer to implement. Therefore, the answers to some of the questions may not be fully known.
1. How is Ch. 61 land now assessed?
In 2007, changes were made to the way in which Ch. 61 land is assessed. Land under Ch. 61 will be assessed on a per acre valuation based on its current land use (i.e. growing trees). This is a fairer method as it is based on the actual use of the land as opposed to the former method which was a percentage of the land's development value.
Below are the current per acre valuation rates for forestland in Ch. 61 and 61A programs which go into effect July 1, 2009:
|FY 2010 Forestland Per Acre Valuation||Productivity Rating*|
|Below Average||Average||Above Average|
|West of the Connecticut River||$78||$98||$117|
|East of the Connecticut River||$53||$67||$80|
*Note: The per acre valuation will be based on your land’s productivity. This calculator will generate a High (H), Medium (M), and Low (L) productivity valuation. Contact you local assessor to determine your land's productivity. See how the per acre rates were determined
Property taxes are calculated as shown below:
Number of certified Acres X Per Acre Valuation = Current Use Valuation
Current Use Valuation X Town's Per Thousand Tax Rate = Estimated tax bill under current use
2. Who gets to decide the per acre assessment of forest land?
There is a committee known as the Farm Advisory Committee (FAC) made up of representatives from various agricultural sectors. The FAC sets per acre assessments for various agricultural land uses (e.g., Vegetable, Tobacco, Sod and Nurseries, Dariy, Beef and Hay). A forestry representative has been added to the FAC. The FAC, in collaboration with the forestry community and the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation, developed a method for calculating a per acre assessment of Ch. 61 land devoted to growing trees. See how the per acre valuation was determined
3. Can landowners switch to a different Ch. 61 program without penalty?
Yes. Landowners may switch their land from enrollment under one chapter to enrollment under another chapter, without penalty. The change is intended to allow flexibility in land management and to encourage landowners to keep their land undeveloped.
4. I placed a conservation restriction on my land to ensure it would always remain undeveloped. I have been in Ch. 61 for a number of years, but now that I have a conservation restriciton on my land, I no longer want to keep in Ch. 61. If I withdraw the land from Ch. 61, am I responsible for paying any penaties?
No. According to the new law, withdrawal from enrollment under any of the three chapters (Ch. 61, 61A or 61B) without a change in actual land use will not result in a rollback penalty if the use remains unchanged for five years. Since you have placed a conservation restriction on your land, it is clear that the land use will not change. You therefore would not be responsible for any penalties.
5. Can I now have a harvest on my Ch. 61 B land?
Yes, but the harvest must be recommended in a state approved forest management plan.