Text Size:   A+ A- A   •   Text Only
Find     
Site Image
Forestland program
(ORS 321.257-390) Western Oregon
(ORS 321.805-855) Eastern Oregon

 
Purpose: The 1999 Legislature established the forestland program as a special tax assessment. After a four-year transition period, in 2004 all owners were transferred into the forestland program. After the transfer, owners with 10 to 4,999 acres could apply to enroll in the small tract forestland program. Both programs have a reduced property tax assessment that is intended to recognize the importance of forestland to Oregon's economy and respond to the growing pressures that urban growth was putting on natural resource lands.
 
How the program works: Most property in Oregon is valued and taxed based on real market value—the price for which land would sell on the open market. Because forestlands are important to Oregon's economic and environmental health, Oregon's private forestlands are taxed differently than other kinds of property. Recognizing this, the Oregon Legislature established a special assessment program for forestland. Currently, timber is not taxed through the property tax system.
 
During the 1900s, counties identified lands in the state whose best, most economically productive use was to grow timber and other forest products. The counties refer to these lands as "highest and best use forestlands." Landowners who own forestland that the county does not consider "highest and best use" may apply to the county assessor to have the land designated as forestland.
 
Forestland classified as "highest and best use" and "designated" qualifies for special assessment under the Forestland Program.
 
How to get into the forestland program: Apply to the assessor of the county in which the forestland is located. The application is needed to help the assessor determine if your land qualifies.
 
Property size: To qualify for the program, the area to be designated must be at least two contiguous acres in one ownership.
 
Forestland criteria: The land must contain enough trees to meet the stocking standards of the Oregon Forest Practices Act. If your land does not currently meet these standards, you can still qualify if at least 20 percent (minimum two acres) of the land meets the standards by the end of the first calendar year in the program and there is a written management plan to plant enough trees to meet the standards within five years. Lands that are not adequately stocked within five years will be disqualified.
 
Annual property tax: Under this program, land is assessed at a special rate based upon the typical price paid for land managed for the production of harvestable timber. This value is often less than the real market value used for taxing other properties.
 
Severance tax at harvest: The small tract forestland severance tax does not apply to land in the Forestland Program.
 
Disqualification or removal: The county assessor may disqualify lands that do not continue to meet the standards for this program. The owner of the disqualified lands will be required to pay an additional tax. This additional tax will be the difference between the tax paid for the previous five years and the tax that would have been paid for the same five-year period had the land been taxed at the real market value.
Example of additional tax on disqualification:
Tax on a 50-acre tract of land at real market value
  5 years x $1,500 tax per year $ 7,500
Tax on a 50-acre tract of land at forestland value
  5 years x $150 tax per year $ 750
  Additional tax on disqualification (back tax) $ 6,750

Change from one special assessment to another: You may change to another special assessment without having to pay additional taxes. This means you can put your property into a farm special assessment, the Wildlife Habitat Conservation Program, the Conservation Easement Program, or the STF Program if your land qualifies for these programs.
 
Links:
 
Choosing a forestland program
Forestland values
Western Oregon forestland productivity class
Designated forestland application
Special assessment programs for forestland