Land Use Assessments

The Land Use Program offers a special assessment for qualifying land. Its purpose is to encourage the proper use of such real estate to conserve natural resources, protect water supplies, preserve scenic beauty, and promote orderly development.

Real estate that meets the qualifications may enter the program under one or more of theses categories: Agriculture, Horticulture, Forest, or Open Space Use. 

When your real estate meets the requirements for Land Use taxation, the qualified land receives a lower assessment than the fair market assessment. This results in a deferment of tax dollars rather than total abatement.

Qualifications

  • Agriculture and Horticulture Use
    • Requires a minimum of five (5) contiguous unimproved acres or six (6) acres for improved parcels.
    • The property must have a five-year history of continuous farming or horticultural activity.
    • The entire farm must qualify with adequate livestock or crop yield per acre. 
    • Gross sales must average more than $1,000 annually over the previous three years.
  • Forest Use
    • Requires at least twenty (20) contiguous acres devoted exclusively to forestry with no livestock access. 
    • No stripping or clear-cutting is permitted unless under the guidance of the Virginia Department of Forestry. 
    • Participants are required to have a forestry plan.
  • Open Space Use
    • The open space use of the property must be consistent with the zoning plan of Warren County.
    • Minimum acreage is five (5) acres. 
    • This category does not simply refer to open, unused land.

Application

New Land Purchases

  1. If parcel is not in land use at the time of purchase, applications must be submitted to the Warren County Commissioner of the Revenue's Real Estate Department by October 1 prior to the tax year for which reduced taxation is sought.
  2. If purchased parcel is currently in land use you must notify the Warren County Commissioner of the Revenue's Real Estate Department within 60 days of the transaction to keep acreage in program. 

Revalidation

  • Revalidation is due biennially based on the general reassessment cycle. 
  • At that time, you will be requested to confirm the acreage and use of the property for the past two (2) years.
  • you will need to present any applicable documentation according to land use and production.
  • A new land use application is filed at this time. 
  • If you wish to present productions and schedules annually, you may do so.
  • There is no fee for revalidation.

Changes in Land Use

If there are changes to the use of your land, you must contact Warren County's Commissioner of the Revenue Real Estate Department within 60 days to discuss reapplication, fees, and possible roll-back tax. 

Failure to contact the Commissioner of the Revenue's office within sixty (60) days after recording one or more of the above transactions will result in the parcel being disqualified from the Land Use Program and taxed at full market value.

Land Use changes include:

  • Changing the use of the land
  • Selling acreage
  • Transferring acreage by deed of gift or receiving by will
  • Resurveying the property boundaries or vacating property lines
  • Changing ownership, buying out an owner, removing or adding an owner, or conveying interest
  • Rezoning (effective from date of zoning change rather than date of change in use)
  • Erecting a dwelling or trailer

Income Tax Documentation

For those taxpayers who are in Land Use under Agricultural or Horticultural Use, a copy of Federal 1040 income tax Schedule C (business), Schedule E (supplementary income, mostly applicable to those who lease the land), or Schedule F (farm profit or loss) must be submitted when revalidation is due (in general reassessment year). 

These forms may be requested to show the five-year history of continuous farming prior to being approved for Land Use. If you do not file one of these schedules, you will be required to submit documentation of a "bona fide" farm operation in another manner: feed receipts, fertilizer receipts, receipts from sale of livestock/crops, etc. Gross sales must average more than $1,000 annually over the previous three years.

Approval

Approval of all applications is made by the Commissioner of the Revenue based on the use of the parcel, documentation submitted, acreage, etc. In some instances, additional information may be requested before an application can be processed. If at any point it is determined that the parcel does not continue to meet the requirements to be taxed under a Land Use Assessment, it will be removed from the Land Use Program. Please note that no fees will be refunded on parcels removed from the program, nor will fees be refunded on applications denied.

Rollback Taxes in Land Use Taxation

When land under the Land Use Taxation program changes its use, a rollback tax may be applied to the parcel. The tax is based on the deferred amount on the non-qualifying acreage for six years, including the current tax year, or for the number of years the parcel has been in the program, if less than five years.

Changes that can trigger this rollback tax include:

  • Selling less than five acres from a qualifying land
  • Building a dwelling on qualifying land
  • New owner building a dwelling on sold qualifying land

In each case, the owner who changes the use from qualifying to non-qualifying will be responsible for the rollback tax.

Real Estate Taxes & Land Use Taxation

It's crucial to note that taxes on a parcel in Land Use must be paid timely. If taxes become delinquent on a parcel under Land Use Assessment, that parcel will be removed from Land Use taxation and taxed at full market value.

While taxes should generally be lower under land use valuation, it's important to note that land use values apply only to the qualifying land. All buildings and improvements are valued at the current general reassessment value. One acre of each parcel having a dwelling, office, or other such building will also be valued at the current reassessment value5.

Each real estate tax bill for a property with land use will show the assessment, the use value, and the tax due.

Useful Documents

  • Land Use Revalidation Form (Form LU-2)
  • Affidavit for Application on the basis of Land Use Assessment
  • Consulting Forester Providers for Forestry Land Use Plans

For more information or queries concerning the Land Use Program, please call 540-635-2651, ext. 205, or email Linda Fuller, Real Estate Assessor.


Fees

The application fee is $10 per parcel payable to the Treasurer of Warren County.

Violations and Penalties

Failure to comply with the provisions of the Land Use Program can result in penalties. For more information, contact Commissioner of the Revenue - Sherry T. Sours or Linda M. Fuller, MDCR Commissioner of the Revenue and Real Estate Department. Supervisor.