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Washington County Property Appraiser’s Office
Gil Carter, CFA | Property Appraiser P O Box 695, Chipley, FL 32428 (850) 638-6205 | Monday - Friday 8:00 - 4:00
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Agricultural Classifications An agricultural classification, more commonly known as "Greenbelt" is not an exemption, but rather it is a classification of different types of agricultural property, such as pasture, cropland, and timberland. The greenbelt classification is a benefit that provides a lower assessment (value in use not market value) to farmers in order that they may continue to commercially farm their land. Only lands used primarily for "Bona fide agricultural purposes" shall be classified agricultural. "Bona-fide agricultural purpose" means, good faith commercial agricultural use of the land. Good faith commercial agricultural use of property is defined as the pursuit of an agricultural activity for a reasonable profit, or at least upon a reasonable expectation of meeting investment costs and realizing a reasonable profit. The profit or reasonable expectation thereof must be viewed from the standpoint of the fee owner and measured in light of their investment. All property being considered for agricultural classification must be in agricultural use as of January 1st each year. Florida Statute 193.461 is intended to provide a means whereby lands actively used for "good faith" agricultural purposes are assessed on a basis of their probable income from normal agricultural use, rather than being based on market value. This is intended to provide a level of taxation on agricultural lands that normal agricultural income can support, thus making it economically possible to continue such usage. It is a privilege that should not be abused. Agricultural zoning of your property does not automatically entitle you to agricultural classification for taxation purposes. They are not one and the same. Pursuant to Florida Statutes 193.461(3)(a), "No land shall be classified as agriculture land unless an application is filed on or before March 1 of each year. Only lands which are used primarily for bona fide agriculture purposes shall be classified agricultural." Bona fide agricultural purposes mean good faith commercial agricultural use of land. Application: An official application for agricultural classification of land and the Request for Additional Information must be completed and submitted to the Property Appraiser's office between January 1 and March 1 of the year an owner first applies for the classification. The application is verification to the county that the owner is using the property primarily for commercial agricultural purposes. Once approved, applications are automatically renewed from year to year. It is the obligation of the property owner to contact this office if qualification status changes. IMPORTANT: Agricultural Classification is not transferable. When the property is sold, or when the name of the owner is changed in any way, the agricultural classification is automatically removed and a new application and Request for Additional Information must be made. If there are any changes in the use of the property it is important to notify the Property Appraiser's office. All applications must be reviewed by the Property Appraiser who either approves or disapproves the application. He may at that time request additional information to assist in his determination. Each property is personally inspected before the classification is first approved. January 1st is the statutory assessment date therefore the property must be in use of this date. These guidelines, while specific, are still "guidelines". The granting or denying of a particular application for agricultural classification is a decision made after analyzing the entirety of circumstances surrounding the viability of the particular agricultural operation as a commercial entity, rather than on a specific point. These guidelines are intended to provide assistance to those planning to make application for the exemption. GENERAL INFORMATION All applications will be inspected by our field appraiser to verify use of property and to insure the property is appraised properly. There may be additional information requested from the property owner to determine eligibility. In addition to the specific information for different crops, we also consider the following types of information. Purchase Price Paid - The Property Appraiser may determine that the "purchase price paid" for land is inconsistent with agricultural use. A purchase price in excess of agricultural assessment can be indicative of lack of a "good faith commercial agricultural use" since the assessment is derived by a capitalization of the income to be produced by land in such a use and thus approximates the amount that could be invested consistent with a reasonable return. Additionally, should the purchase price paid exceed the agricultural assessment by three or more times a presumption that the land is not used primarily for good faith commercial agricultural purposes is created by section 193.461 (4)©, Florida Statures. Whether there has been an effort to care sufficiently and adequately for the land as it pertains to the agricultural endeavor. This includes but is not limited to fertilizing, tilling, mowing, reforesting, and other accepted agricultural practices Whether such land is under lease, and if so, the effective length, terms, and conditions of the lease. Is the property located in a rural area? Has the operation of agricultural enterprise been continuous? Has there been a true effort to have the property contribute to the agricultural economy of the county on either a short or long term basis? If so, is it proportional to the size of the property? For example, one cow on a one acre parcel cannot be considered as bona fide commercial operation, while 50 cows on 100 acres could be. Production of livestock, a home garden, or a farm for your own use does not qualify. Must be operated in such a manner as to reasonably expect to make a return on investment. Actual use on January 1st, not the "expected use". There should be no deed restrictions that would prohibit commercial agricultural use. Land that has been zoned to a nonagricultural use at the request of the owner will not be eligible for agricultural classification. The Property Appraiser has the right to remove the classification from land if the property is no longer being utilized for an agricultural purpose. If the application is approved, you will not be notified. If the application is denied, you will receive a certified letter in the mail. Homesite: If there is a homesite located on the property applying for an agricultural classification, the home and curtilage it sits on are NOT eligible for this classification. The owner can obtain a homestead exemption if it is the owner's primary residence. Annual Renewal: After initial acceptance, the classification will automatically renew annually. A receipt will be mailed each January to reconfirm the agricultural classification of the land. If any changes to the land have occurred, it is the responsibility of the taxpayer to bring it to the Property Appraiser's attention. If your application for the agricultural classification is denied, you will be notified by certified mail. For additional information refer to Florida Statute 193.461 and Department of Revenue Guidelines 12D-5. Note: Agricultural operations must file a "Tangible Personal Property" return on all equipment that is used for the operation by April 1st of each year according to FS 196.052.