Chapter 61 Current Use Tax Programs

There are three Ch. 61 programs.   Each program provides a means to assess land at its current use (forest, agriculture, or open space/recreation) as opposed to its development value.  

Ch. 61:

Intended for landowners interested in long-term, active forest management.  Assessment of forestland under Ch. 61 is based on the land’s ability to grow timber. Learn how the per acre rates are calculatedCalculate your taxes under the Ch. 61 program. Program requirements include: 10 or more contiguous acres, a state-approved forest management plan developed by a licensed forester or landowner, and periodic forest management as recommended by the forest management plan. 

Download a publication about the Ch. 61 programs.

Contact your local DCR service forester.

Marked boundaries are a requirement of the Ch. 61 program.  Learn more about marking your boundaries.

Download the Ch. 61 application form

Ch. 61A:

Intended for landowners engaged in agricultural or horticultural use.  Assessment is based on the land’s ability to produce the agricultural or horticultural product being grown.  Forestland may be enrolled in this program ans is based on your land's ability to grow timber.  Calculate your taxes for forestland enrolled in the Ch. 61A program.  Assessments and program requirements for Ch. 61A forestland are the same as they are in the Ch. 61 program. Filing deadline at your local assessor's office is October 1st.

Download a publication about the Ch. 61 Programs

Contact your local service forester.

Download the Ch. 61A application form

Ch. 61B:

Intended for landowners interested in maintaining the land in a substantially natural, wild or open condition.  Assessment of forestland under Ch. 61B is 25% of the current assessed value of the land. Calculate your taxes under the Ch. 61B program.  Landowners must have at least 5 contiguous acres of land.  Land does not have to be open to the public.  Forest management under Ch. 61B is not mandated.  However, landowners do have the option of managing their forests if they develop a state approved forest management plan.  The Ch. 61B program is implemented by the local board of assessors. Filing deadline at your local assessor's office is October 1st. Contact your local assessor for more information.

Download a publication about the Ch. 61 programs

Download the Ch. 61B application form

Comparing the Current Use Programs

Download a table comparing the characteristics of the programs.

Transferring Current Use Programs

It is possible to switch from one Ch. 61 program to another without penalty.

Withdrawing Land from the Chapter 61 Programs

A landowner may withdraw their land from enrollment under any of the three chapters without a rollback penalty if the use of the land remains unchanged for at least five years.

Withdrawal from enrollment under any of the three programs with a change in use results in a rollback penalty and triggers the municipality’s right of first refusal.  Contact your local service forester for information on Ch. 61/61A roll back penalties.  Contact your local assessor for information on Ch. 61B rollback penalties.

Town’s Right of First Refusal

Landowners entering one of the Chapter 61 programs agree to maintain the use of the land in a way consistent with their chosen program. Land sold or converted for a use not compatible with the enrolled chapter program within one fiscal year of being taxed under these programs must provide their municipality with a notice to sell or convert. A town may exercise their right of first refusal to buy the land or may transfer the right of first refusal to an eligible conservation organization.

The right of first refusal applies:

  • When a landowner intends to sell the land for a use other than their chosen use, the town has the option to meet a bona fide purchase and sales agreement.
  • When a landowner intends to change use of the land, but not to sell to a new owner, the town has the option to purchase the land at full and fair market value determined by an impartial appraisal.
  • If a landowner withdraws from the program and changes the use within 12 months, the town may exercise its right of first refusal.

The town does not have the right of first refusal when:

  • The change of use is for the construction of a residence for an immediate family member.
  • A landowner chooses to withdraw from a program, but keeps the land in its chosen use for a period of five years.
  • A landowner chooses to switch to a different program

For more information on the Right of First Refusal process:

Summary of the Right of First Refusal Procedure

Conservation and Land Use Planning under Massachusetts’ Chapter 61 Laws: A Primer for Cities, Towns, and Conservation Organizations