Two Trees Forestry
167 Main St.
P.O. Box 356
Winthrop, ME 04364
V: (207) 377-7196
F: (207) 377-7198
Friday, September 21 2012
Tree growth tax law changes effective August 31
During April 2012 the Legislature amended the rules relating to the Tree Growth Tax Law in several ways, to clarify its implementation. Most notably, landowners must now attest that the primary use of their TG land is to produce forest products, a process and alternative penalties have been created for landowners who donít refile their 10-year certifications in a timely manner, minimum acreages have been established for houselots within shoreland zones, and transfers of forestland out of Open Space may be penalized differently than before.
Landowners now seeking to enroll/recertify Tree Growth properties must attest that the primary use of their forestland is for the production of forest products. Landowners may continue to manage their lands also for wildlife habitat protection, recreational purposes, etc., but enrollees are expected to harvest timber within the framework of their plans.
No longer will landowners be at immediate risk of being thrown out of Tree Growth and assessed a full withdrawal penalty for failing to file timely recertifications. Instead municipalities will first notify landowners within 120 days of the impending deadline. If landowners fail to comply, a $500 administrative penalty will be assessed, followed six months later by a second $500 supplementary assessment if compliance is still incomplete. If one year after the original notice date the landowner still hasnít filed the proper paperwork, they will be removed from Tree Growth and assessed a full withdrawal penalty.
Tree Growth properties, with a residential site situated within a 250í-wide shoreland zone from rivers, lakes, significant wetlands, or coastlines will be assessed and taxed at non-TG rates on at least 100í of shore frontage and 0.5 acres.
Additional potential withdrawal penalties have been instituted for the Open Space program. Because previously Open Space withdrawal penalties were often significantly less than those for Tree Growth, and owners could move back and forth between the programs with no penalty, now if a landowner withdrawals land from Open Space that had previously been transferred from Tree Growth, less than 10 years before, will be assessed Tree Growth penalties.
The Maine Forest Service will conduct random surveys of TG properties to ensure compliance with the forest management plan requirement. The MFS may also assist municipalities in evaluating if landowners are complying with their plans.