Land Use Program

The Land Use Program is a tax deferment program administered by the Commissioner of Revenue to incentivize people to maintain rural properties. The preservation of real estate devoted to agricultural, horticultural, forest, and open space uses within boundaries of Botetourt County is in the public interest.

General Qualifications

Land may be eligible for special valuation and assessment when it meets the following criteria:

AGRICULTURAL:

When devoted to the bona fide production for sale of plants and animals useful to man under uniform standards prescribed by the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Or when devoted to and meeting the requirements and qualifications for payments or other compensation pursuant to a soil conservation program under an agreement with an agency of the federal government. Requiring 5 acres minimum in agricultural use.

HORTICULTURAL:

When devoted to the bona fide production for sale of fruits of all kinds, including grapes, nuts and berries: vegetables; nursery and floral products under uniform standards prescribed by the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, or when devoted to and meeting the requirements and qualifications for payments or other compensation pursuant to a soil conservation program under an agreement with an agency of the federal government. Requiring 5 acres minimum.

FOREST:

When devoted to tree growth in such quantity and so spaced and maintained as to constitute a forest area under standards prescribed by the State Forester. Requiring 20 acres minimum in forest use.

OPEN SPACE:

This is for golf courses and other properties that have a written agreement with the county.


Application

Landowners that meet the above qualifications must initially apply for the program at least 60 days preceding the tax year. They must also reapply by March 1st of each re-assessment year. Documentation showing that the property is being used in a qualifying use is required to be included with the application.


How the Program Works

Properties in the land use program are assessed at a reduced value based upon the “use.” Forest, crop, pasture, and open space may each be assessed at different amounts. The assessment is determined by the Commissioner of the Revenue with guidance from SLEAC and Virginia Tech. The normal Real Estate Tax rate is applied the Land Use assessment value.


How the Tax is Calculated

The qualifying acres of land will be assigned a value that is often lower than the general assessment value. This can change periodically and differs depending on the use of the land.

For example: A property owner has a 50 acre farm. There are two houses and a barn on this property. The rest is all corn fields.

The two houses are assessed at $300,000 combined. The Barn is assessed at $10,000. The land is assessed at $25,000 per home site and $4000 per acre for the remaining 48 acres. The current value for crop land is $500 per acre. The real estate tax rate is $0.79 per $100 of value.

  • Standard Taxes:
    • $300,000 houses + $10,000 barn + $50,000 home sites + $192,000 corn field = $552,000 total assessment.
    • $552,000 / 100 X 0.79 = $4360.80 total tax due
  • Land Use Taxes:
    • $300,000 houses + $10,000 barn + $50,000 home sites + $24,000 corn field = $384,000 total assessment.
    • $384,000 / 100 X 0.79 = $3,033.60 total tax due
  • In this example there are $1327.20 in taxes that are deferred while the property is being farmed.

Roll Back Taxes and Penalty – Change in Use, Acreage, or Zoning

(a) Whenever land which has qualified for assessment and taxation according to use has been converted to a non‑qualifying use or rezoned to a more intensive use at the request of the owner or his agent, that land is subject to the roll‑back tax as provided in section 58.1‑3237(D).

(b) In the event of a change in use, acreage, or zoning, the property owner must report such change to the local Commissioner of the Revenue, within sixty days of said change.

THIS PROGRAM IS NOT AVAILABLE IF THERE ARE DELINQUENT TAXES.


More Information

For questions or information on the Land Use Program, contact the Commissioner of Revenue’s office, and reference these statutes – Virginia Code 58.1 Chapter 32 Article 4 & Botetourt County Code Chapter 23 Article II