The forest land classification program is designed to encourage the preservation and enhancement of the Commonwealth's forests. It offers significant property tax benefits to owners willing to make a long-term commitment to forestry. In exchange for these benefits, the town is given the right to recover some of the tax benefits afforded the owner when the land is removed from classification and an option to purchase the property if the land is sold or used for non-forestry uses.
A parcel must consist of at least ten contiguous acres of land under the same ownership and be managed under a ten-year management plan approved and certified by the State Forester in order to qualify for and retain classification as forest land.
The property owner must submit a written application to the State Forester before July 1rst of the year before the start of the fiscal year for which taxation as classified land is sought. Before September 1rst, the owner then submits a written application to the Board of Assessors henceforth annually.
Under Chapter 61, the owner still pays annual property tax. However, the tax is based on the commercial rate applied to 5% of the fair market value of the land. The owner must also pay products tax annually based on 8% of the stumpage value of the forest products cut from the parcel during the prior calendar year.