Dooley Real Estate

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 cow operation.

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 name.