Monday, August 07, 2006

Milking the Farmland Assessment

From the Courier News:

Sierra Club wants N.J. to re-examine tax break

It's not how well some people farm their land but how well they farm the government.

So says the Sierra Club in a recently announced campaign to call on Gov. Jon S. Corzine and the Legislature to reassess the state's Farmland Assessment program, which gives property tax breaks to anyone who owns five acres of land and sells $500 a year in agricultural products.

Jeff Tittel, director of the Sierra Club's New Jersey chapter, discussed the issue last week with Courier News editors. He said the Sierra Club has suggested the state reassess its program to possibly increase the amount of land or the amount of revenue a farm must have to qualify for the program.

Tittel explained that large corporations with headquarters on sprawling campuses often abuse the program by growing relatively hassle-free crops such as hay or soybeans around their offices so they qualify for tax breaks.

The same goes for land-banking developers who buy property and do just enough harvesting on the land to qualify for the program. Then, after a few months or years, developers use the land to plant houses instead of crops while they cash out with money from the tax breaks, Tittel said.

"For a lot of people, this becomes a way of getting around property taxes," Tittel said. "But it means everyone else gets hurt."
Tittel said the farmland assessment program and its abusers cost municipalities $300 million a year as New Jersey continues to lose more farmland -- about 10,000 acres a year as a percentage of overall land -- than any state in the nation.


Blogger Shailesh Gala said...

Normally, I find Sierra club too much on Left, but I support them on this 100%. Jeff Tittel even got editorial board of Courier News to support this argument.

Property tax loophole being abused

May be this will force builders to not build only McMansions, but also some decent SFH that most people want to live in.

8/07/2006 07:47:00 AM  
Blogger rymingrealtor said...

My comment is : Christie Whitman


8/07/2006 10:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't support farmland assessment? Be prepared for an acceleration of sprawl like you wouldn't believe, becuase once these landowners realize they are paying the same taxes as anyone else these properties are going to be built on. And while cows and horses don't go to school, the children who will live in the "last crop" houses ost certainly will.

8/07/2006 12:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That tax break is the only thing that allows me to keep the property surrounding my house as buffer. Every year I get offers from developers, the last was for $4.2m If I lost the tax break, I would definitely sell.

8/17/2006 04:06:00 PM  

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