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August 14, 2009

County residents getting land use tax break are urged to send in revalidation forms as deadline looms

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By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, August 14, 2009

20080808-chiles4 Albemarle County landowners with property in the land use taxation program have less than three weeks to file their new revalidation forms. As of today, less than half of the participants have returned their paperwork according to County Assessor Bob Willingham.

After September 1, 2009, the County will charge a $125 late fee to process the revalidation forms documenting that a property still qualifies for the program.  If a landowner has not returned the revalidation forms by December 5, 2009, they will face the possibility of being removed from the land use taxation program and subject to paying “roll back” taxes. In that scenario, the landowner would have to pay real estate property taxes at the fair market value for the previous five years.

Last October, the Board of Supervisors voted to require the revalidation process as a way of answering critics who charged the program was being abused by property owners who were not actually using their land for agricultural, open space, or forestry purposes. The County has never previously required participating landowners to revalidate their property. The program has been in place since 1973.

In an interview with Charlottesville Tomorrow, Willingham said he is not surprised that a majority of the program’s participants have not yet complied.

 “From my experience, it’s kind of typical that people receive a form from the government and don’t realize the importance of filing it,” Willingham said. “Some people forget it. Some people ignore it.”

20080808-OrtmanRd If those people continue to ignore the program after the cut-off date, their property will be assessed in January 2010 at fair market rates. If they do not submit a reapplication to join the land use taxation program, their property will be subject to the roll-back taxes.

Approximately 68% of the County’s land is in land use taxation, according to Willingham. He said the County receives $19 million less in tax dollars then it would if the program was not in place. There are 4,927 parcels of land participating in the program.

Willingham predicts that as many as 10 percent of participants will not comply with revalidation and will be removed from the program.

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