ACT 319 - CLEAN & GREEN
 
ELIGIBLE LAND CLASSES: Agriculture-Agriculture Reserve-Forest Reserve

Agriculture  

  • Ten (10) contiguous eligible net acres or more.
  • Farmed preceding three (3) years.
  • Evidence of such use and capabilities from soil surveys, etc.
  • Notify Assessor of change of use within thirty (30) days.

-or-

  • Less than ten (10) contiguous eligible net acres.
  • Farmed preceding three (3) years.
  • Potential capability of $2,000 gross income yearly.
  • Evidence of $2,000 gross income for each three (3) preceding years.

Agriculture Reserve*

  • Ten (10) contiguous eligible net acres or more.
  • Non-commercial use (no income or profit from any use of the land).
  • Cannot post "No Trespassing".
  • Open to the public free of charge, on a non-discriminating basis as to sex, age, nationality, etc. *Use of the lands by the public must be permitted for passive activities such as hunting, fishing, hiking, bird watching, etc. 
  • Notify Assessor of change of use within thirty (30) days. 

Forest Reserve 

  • Ten (10) contiguous eligible net acres or more.
  • Capable of producing timber or wood products.
  • Notify Assessor of change of use within thirty (30) days.
The Assessor may require such documentation as deemed necessary to substantiate that the land in the application is capable of producing timber or other wood products. Documentation may include, but is not limited to, any of the following: photographs, a survey plan, income tax records, an inventory of trees by species and size, sales invoices of products sold, sales invoices from trees planted, an Affidavit, etc.
How to Convey Land:
 
Property may be conveyed either by SEPARATION, SPLIT-OFF or WHOLE PARCEL TRANSFER as defined below: 

SEPARATION is a division of land, by conveyance or other action of the owner into two (2) or more tracts.  Each tract formed must also be ten (10) contiguous eligible net acres. The eligible use continues on each tract.

  • If one of the tracts formed in the separation changes to an ineligible use within seven (7) years of the date of the separation, the owner of that tract is liable for all the rollback taxes and interest on all of the original land. After seven (7) years from the date of the separation, an owner of any tract can change to an ineligible use and be liable only for the rollback taxes on that tract.

SPLIT-OFF is a division of land, by conveyance or other action of the owner not to exceed two (2) net acres annually. Over the life of a covenant total split-off land cannot exceed ten percent (10%) or ten (10) net acres, whichever is the lesser of the original covenant.  Note: If zoning requires three (3) acres minimum, then three (3) acres annually are permitted. A copy of the zoning ordinance is required.

  • Rollback taxes are due and payable with respect to the land split-off and the split-off land use must either be residential, agricultural or forest reserve. The person to whom the split off tract was conveyed must occupy the residential dwelling that would be constructed on this land.

WHOLE PARCEL TRANSFER is the conveyance of all your land to another owner.  The land will retain the preferential assessment as long as there is no change to an ineligible use and an ownership change application is submitted and approved.

A copy of preliminary plans must be provided to the Assessment Office for approval prior to recording any SEPARATION or SPLIT-OFF, with the following information:

  • Name and address of the new owners.
  • Date of the proposed separation, split-off or transfer.
  • The amount of land to be separated split-off or transferred.
  • The present use of the land to be separated split-off or transferred.
  • Intended use of the land, when separated, split-off or transferred.
Notification forms for proposed SEPARATIONs, SPLIT-Offs or WHOLE PARCEL TRANSFERs can be obtained from the Assessment Office.

What happens to my preferential assessment upon my death? 

  • If your land is separated among your beneficiaries who are considered Class A for Pennsylvania inheritance tax purposes, then the preferential assessment under the Act remains with the separated tracts. If one of the beneficiaries of your estate changes to an ineligible use, then they are liable for the rollback taxes on their tract only.
  • Class A beneficiaries are defined as grandfather, grandmother, father, mother, husband, wife, lineal descendants, and a wife or widow and husband or widower of a child. Lineal descendants can be further defined as all children of the natural parents and their descendants, adopted descendants and their descendants, stepchildren and children and their descendants of the natural parent who are adopted by his or her spouse. Lineal descendants do not include descendants of stepchildren or adopted children of their descendants in the natural family.

 What happens to my preferential assessment if a portion of my land is condemned by the Federal, State or local government?

  • The condemnation will not affect the land that you retain or subject you to rollback taxes on any part of your land. You will also not be subject to rollback taxes on the condemned portion.
  • If you reach an agreed settlement to sell any or all of your land to any entity that possesses the power of condemnation, then that sale will not subject you to rollback taxes on the land you retain or the land you sell.
  • In order for preferential assessment to continue on remaining land it must continue to meet eligibility requirements. 

Copies of the Act can be obtained at:
www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol31/31-13/544.html

Copies of Act 235 can be obtained at:
http://www2.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/BI/BT/2003/0/HB0657P4772.pdf

Disclaimer-The contents contained above are for general information purposes only. We endeavor to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, expressed or implied, is given as to its accuracy and we do not accept any liability for error or omission. This information is not a substitute for legal advice. Important legal rights may be involved and you may be adversely impacted. Please consult your attorney.-Berks County Assessment Office

Rev. 03/2008