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Agricultural Value

Saving taxes on agricultural land

If your land qualifies for an agricultural appraisal, it could lower your taxable value.  Qualified agricultural lands are based on the land’s capacity to produce agricultural products, including timber, rather than its market value.  This method usually reduces your property tax bill.

Two different provisions of the Texas Constitution address qualifications for agricultural appraisal.  Article VIII, Section I-d, defining agricultural use, requires you to show farming or ranching is your primary occupation and source of income.  Very few property owners qualify under this provision.  Nearly all land receiving agricultural appraisal falls under Article VIII, Section 1-d-1, also know as open-space valuation, as described below.

Qualifying criteria for open-space land appraisal

Your land must be devoted principally to farming, ranching, wildlife management or timber production for five of the previous seven years.

To qualify for open-space land appraisal, your land must be used primarily for agriculture; you must demonstrate that the land has been used for agriculture for five of the previous seven years, and the agricultural use was of the degree of intensity that is typical in the area.  Agricultural use includes, but is not limited to:

  • producing crops, livestock or timber;
  • floriculture (the growing of flowers as a crop), viticulture (the growing of grapes, especially for winemaking) and horticulture (the cultivation of plants, especially flowers, fruit and vegetables, in gardens or greenhouses);
  • leaving land idle to participate in a government program or as part of normal crop rotation;
  • raising and keeping bees for pollination or for the production of human food or other tangible products having a commercial value on land that is not less than 5 or more than 20 acres; and
  • wildlife management.

How to File for Agricultural Appraisal

1. An application may be obtained from the appraisal district, the appraisal district’s website or the Comptroller’s website.
2. Land qualifies for agricultural appraisal if it has been used for agricultural for five of the preceding seven years and is currently devoted principally to agricultural use as defined by statute, used to protect federally listed endangered species under a federal permit or used for conservation or restitution projects under certain federal and state statutes. The land must also be used for agricultural to the degree of intensity generally accepted in the area.
3. You must complete this application in full and file with the appraisal district before May 1 of the year you are applying for agricultural appraisal. To be accepted, this form must contain information necessary to determine the validity of the claim.
4. You may file a late application up to the day before the appraisal review board approves appraisal records for the year which usually occurs in July. If you file a late application and your application is approved, you must pay a penalty equal to 10 percent of the difference between the amount of tax imposed on the property and the amount that would be imposed if the property were taxed at market value.
5. After considering the application and all relevant information, the chief appraiser may request additional information. You must provide the additional information within 30 days of the request or the application is denied. For good cause shown, the chief appraiser may extend the deadline not to exceed 15 day.
6. If the chief appraiser modifies or denies your request for agricultural appraisal a written notice of the modification or denial must be delivered to the applicant within five days after the date of the determination. Included should be a brief explanation of the procedures for protesting the action.
7. If your application is approved, you do not need to file again in later years unless the chief appraiser request a new application. Failure to file this request will result in the loss of agricultural appraisal.
8. For more information on filing for agricultural appraisal you may contact your appraisal district or consult the State Comptroller’s Manual for the Appraisal of Agricultural Land on the Comptroller’s website.