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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Orlando, FL
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    Default Property tax agricultural exemption for bees

    I had a person call me last year and ask how many hives it would take to maintain an ag exemption on her property.

    I do not know the answer.

    If anyone else has some idea on this - I sure am curious too.
    Troy

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
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    Greenville, TX, USA
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    Default

    The appraiser's handbook in Texas expressly excludes bees from ag exemptions. They cite a court case down near the coast that said in effect "a bee is not a cow", i.e. you can't claim grazing bees as ag. You can take the area the hives actually take up plus your extraction area. Your state may be different.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
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    Owen, WI, USA
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    Default

    It must vary by state. We had someone last year buy a couple/few hives from us so he could claim his rural property as agriculture, rather than as recreational. I don't know how many it takes for how much land, though; don't even remember how many he bought.
    Sheri

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    St. Albans, Vermont
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    5,308

    Default

    Property taxes are controlled by the states. Each is different. In Vermont, you must make at least $2500 on your land from agricultural endeavors to qualify for an agricultural property tax classification.

  5. #5
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    Dec 2008
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    syracuse n.y.
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    Default

    in Mass. you needed 5 acres and $500 gross income, pretty reasonable,
    in N.Y. 7 or more acres need 10,000, less than 7 acres need 50,000, ya think they don't want too many exemptions.

    mike

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Lavaca county, Texas
    Posts
    497

    Default

    I *DID* get an ag exemption for my bees here in TX -- BUT:

    I also provided a to scale layout of my property divided and labeled in sections. Each section has a listing of what plants I have or will add to help provide "forage" for the girls. Fruit trees, shrubs, vines, flowers, clover, buckwheat, vetch etc. were all laid out. Gardens, fields, etc.

    In addition, I provided a basic marketing plan on how we will sell honey in the area, and a list of value added products (candles, soap, etc) that can be sold. The potential for future pollination contracts was mentioned.

    We made a point of showing: This is a business, like a cattle rancher raising specific crosses for the beef or breeding markets, planning on selling X number of head per year.

    We worked on it over 2 months.

    We also have talked with out local USDA Extension Agent, and the USDA Soil and Water Conservation Agent about improvements. The Extension agent now gives out our name for swarm calls. The Conservation Agent was thrilled we weren't going to plant row crops, and wanted to improve the soils. Getting them on board our plans made the Tax Office give the go ahead.

    It can be done. The Handbook for TX lists things like X number of Pecan trees per acre, or peach trees. Heads of cattle, sheep or goats per acre, etc. Since we started with 10.5 acres, none of those were feasable. But X number of hives, supported by X amount of forage that WE WILL PROVIDE was okay.

    By approaching it as a business venture, it went fine. A Hobbyist asking for an ag exemption would raise their red flags.

    Find a County Commisioner to buy coffee. Or the Extension Agent. Both! Chat them up. Talk about how agriculture locally will improve if bees for pollination are around. Ask how many queries the extension agent has had for LOCAL honey. But don't be surprised if they want you to have a minimum of 10 acres and 5 hives.

    Good Luck
    SUmmer

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Orlando, FL
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    Default

    Thanks for all the input here. I agree that it has to appear to be more than a hobby.

    Still on the other hand people here in FL plant row upon row of pine trees and get one. Pine trees are not a very engaging line of work, but if that Pine trees counts, then certainly there ought to be a way to make a bee endeavor work.
    Troy

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    South San Ysidro, NM
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    503

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Troy View Post
    Thanks for all the input here. I agree that it has to appear to be more than a hobby.
    Not necessarily...

    I got a dryland agriculture exemption for the land where I have two hives. It took a conversation with the county assessor and filling out a form. On the form, I simply put "Apiary" for the agricultural use blank. I did not have to say how many hives, income generated, or anything else. Also, there aren't any reporting requirements. I will loose the exemption if I build a house or irrigate the land.

    The assessor was used to these exemptions for grazing and farming but hadn't ever done one for beekeeping. In the end, my property tax on 4 acres is $5 per year rather than the normal percentage of the land value. The tax break is paying for the hobby.

  9. #9
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    May 2008
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    Fresno California USA
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    2,479

    Default Property taxes

    Coming from someone who is actually in business, and who pays my FAIR SHARE of taxes to support public services that we all benefit from, I resent your attempts to avoid paying your fair share by invoking an exemption intended for someone who is dependent on bees for a living.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Cleveland, Texas
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom G. Laury View Post
    Coming from someone who is actually in business, and who pays my FAIR SHARE of taxes to support public services that we all benefit from, I resent your attempts to avoid paying your fair share by invoking an exemption intended for someone who is dependent on bees for a living.
    Tom, I can agree 100% with your sentiment. But on the other hand, when the Central Appraisal District uses every gimmick they can to over access our properties (I have yet to reside in a county in Texas where it does not occur), I can't be too critical of those who have found a loophole to counteract them. It used to be that you could successfully contest them, but anymore they seem to have too much influence on the arbitrators and it is rare for them to vote against the county.
    "The UNKNOWN, huh? That would be SNORBERT ZANGOX over in Waycross."

  11. #11
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    May 2008
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    Fresno California USA
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    Default The tax break is paying for the hobby

    What did Leona Helmsley say? Something like: " Only the little people pay taxes." I guess it just comes down to what ever your conscience will let you live with.

  12. #12
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    Nov 2004
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    Owen, WI, USA
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    Default

    I look at this exemption as an environmental benefit. If property taxes are high owners might have to sell off some to developers to pay taxes, where lower taxes might encourage the land to stay in a more natural state. As a taxpayer, I am happy to subsidize this program. Of course, if the landowners would subsidize themselves, well, that's better yet.
    Sheri

  13. #13
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    May 2008
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    Fresno California USA
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    Default

    Well Sheri out here the counties are struggling to provide basic services. The countryside (?) is nothing but starve your horse slowly 10 acre ranchettes and they all want to call it a farm and avoid as many taxes as they can. Meanwhile even a small operator like me pays thousands of dollars each year in RE, PP, and income taxes. The environmental benefit occurs when for instance a large cattle ranch can stay in business because of Williamson act or other assistance, not from people who stretch the intent of these exemptions.

  14. #14
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    Dec 2005
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    Cleveland, Texas
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnK and Sheri View Post
    I look at this exemption as an environmental benefit. If property taxes are high owners might have to sell off some to developers to pay taxes, where lower taxes might encourage the land to stay in a more natural state. As a taxpayer, I am happy to subsidize this program. Of course, if the landowners would subsidize themselves, well, that's better yet.
    Sheri
    Actually in Texas, thats a very good way to look at it because its not really an exemption so much as a deferment. If the land is converted to other use, all the tax savings that have accrued from the time it was first designated agricultural use are rolled over into the first year and have to be paid by the current owner. When a developer looks at a parcel of land that has been designated as ag use for 40 years, the tax bill for converting it to residential use can dissuade them from purchasing it. I have seen it happen.
    "The UNKNOWN, huh? That would be SNORBERT ZANGOX over in Waycross."

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    Fredericksburg, Va
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    Default

    >>>who pays my FAIR SHARE of taxes to support public services

    If one is entitled to take an exemption, I would not consider that as taking an unfair advantage. A fair share is paying what is due , no more nor less.
    Bee all you can Bee!
    http://www.hamiltonapiary.net

  16. #16
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    May 2008
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    Fresno California USA
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    Default The Rules of Golf

    Are a good simile;
    John that's true, the rules can work both for and against you.

    But it's also true (human nature) that the player with the fastest cart always has a good lie.

    If you don't think ag exemptions get abused you're kidding yourself.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
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    Greenville, TX, USA
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    Default

    Actually in Texas, thats a very good way to look at it because its not really an exemption so much as a deferment. If the land is converted to other use, all the tax savings that have accrued from the time it was first designated agricultural use are rolled over into the first year and have to be paid by the current owner. When a developer looks at a parcel of land that has been designated as ag use for 40 years, the tax bill for converting it to residential use can dissuade them from purchasing it. I have seen it happen.
    Actually, they can only go back 7 years I believe.

  18. #18
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    Default Tax break

    Sounds just like what we call the Williamson Act, although I thought that was a state measure. Lower prop tax for ag use.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Alachua County, FL, USA
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    Default Re: Tax break

    I did some research and it varies by county in Florida. Row crops and nurseries are one acre minimum plus one acre for the residence.
    "Any residence on the property causes one acre to be removed from the agriculture classification. This acre is assessed at the current market value and is referred to as a home site.
    For a bee/honey operation you must be a registered Florida Beekeeper and have your own, or have access to, honey extracting equipment, hive building and repair facility, etc."
    One acre homestead and the rest "greenbelt" for apiculture.
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Livermore, CA
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    1,383

    Default Re: Tax break

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom G. Laury View Post
    Sounds just like what we call the Williamson Act, although I thought that was a state measure. Lower prop tax for ag use.
    Thank God for the Williamson Act or there would be a lot of Ted Turners buying up ranches that have been in the family for generations but the kids couldnt afford the "new" tax assessment after it was inherited.

    I think the hard working blue collar man like you and I and of course others, should get as many tax breaks as possible. It will make up for those inner city hoodlums that sit on the couch watching government paid TV, in a government paid heated/airconditioned government subsidized house, eating goverment subsidized food and waiting for their tax free government check to come in.

    Welfare is not for those in dire need anymore, its an actual "inheiritence" among inner city hoodlums. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free.

    Im done ranting!!LOL <deep breath>
    Coyote Creek Bees

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