Connecticut's Public Act 490 Explained
PA 490 was pushed by the Connecticut legislature
and passed in 1963. The intent was to provide property
tax relief for the owners of farms, forests, and open
space. It was meant to prevent the owners from being
forced to sell because of taxes.
"Does my land qualify?"
Each towns' tax assessor ultimately determines this
question after an application is submitted. It is
good to know that the State of Connecticut has no
minumum size requirements for farmland. Farmland classification
deals more with the usage and less with the size of
the farm. A one-acre beekeeping farm may qualify for
farmland status just as easily as a 100-acre dairy
Qualifying for forest land classification is different.
A landowner must have at least 25-acres formally designated
as forest through the Forestry Division of the CT
Dept. of Environmental Protection which requires a
certified forester's report.
Open space classification requires something different
as well. This is locally determined and can be tied
to town based zoning. While it can vary from town
to town, generally a landowner will need a minimum
of 3-5 acres of open space to gain this classification.
"How much will I save?"
For local property taxes, PA 490 allows properties
to be taxed based on their current use
value as opposed to their highest and best
use value. The savings vary for each situation,
but can be very worthwile for property owners. Assessments
on the portions of land classified as forest or farm
can be reduced by as much as 90-95%.
"Is there a catch?"
Because PA 490 allows people to continue
to farm and own forests/open space, it has become
a very important land preservation tool. If land is
taken out of farm, forest, or open space classificationd
during the first ten years, the owner may be subject
to a tax penalty. This potential penalty is tied to
the current owner and doesn't run with the land.
"How do I apply"
Visit your tax accessor's office for an application.
For farmland, applications must be filled out and
returned between September 1st and October 31st of
each year. For forest land classification, they must
be submitted by October 1st and also be accompanied
by a certified forester's report as mentioned before.
Once you gain the classification, there's no need
to reapply every year. Classification is removed only
if the use of the land changes or if the property
changes hands. Buyers purchasing a property already
in PA 490 will be required to reapply in their own