Can Clean & Green save you some green?
Pennsylvania's Act 319 Clean & Green program may save you on taxes if you agree to enroll some or all of your land in agricultural use, agricultural reserve use, or forestry use. There may be filing fees with your county, and if you decide to pull the land from the program early, you'll pay back taxes plus a fee.
There are over 9.3 million acres are enrolled statewide in Clean & Green. In most cases, land entered in the program is at least 10 acres, but smaller parcels may be eligible if in ag use. Tax assessment rates are set by the state; you'll apply through your county tax assessor's office.
Briefly, "Agricultural use" means that you're producing an agricultural commodity or the land use meets the requirements for compensation under a federal soil conservation program under federal program. "Agricultural reserve" land is open space available to the public for recreation or scenic enjoyment--you may put reasonable restrictions under this definition, such as no access after dark, for example. "Forest reserve use" land is 10 acres or more, stocked by forest trees capable of producing timber or other wood products.
PA Veteran Farmer Cathie Dibert of "Green"er Acres Farm enrolled in Clean and Green, and told us, "We have always wanted to keep the farm in the family and have no plans on ever having any parts of the property sold off to developers, so the penalties that are associated with the program were not an issue for us. And the tax benefits are real. We went from a tax bill of $2,659 down to $1,135 with C&G. "
Cathie offers a caveat for those considering C&G: "The only downfall I see is that if you were hoping to get a bank loan and the value of your property was based on your C&G assessed value, you now have a lesser value on paper. Our county was reassessed and the new assessed value was listed as $214,900 (almost $65,000 more than it was appraised at 3 years ago), but now the C&G assessed value is $91,700. So if we go to a bank with our new assessed value, without having the property appraised, it looks like the property lost $58,300 of value."
Learn more about Clean & Green on the PA Dept. of Ag website here .