Clean and Green, or the Pennsylvania Farmland and Forest Land Assessment Act (Act 319 amended by Act 156 of 1998 and Act 235 of 2004), is a state law that allows qualifying land which is devoted to agricultural or forest land use to be assessed at a use value rather than fair market value. The intent of Act 319 is to encourage property owners to retain their land in agricultural, open space, or forest land use by providing some real estate tax relief.
Clean and Green rates are established by the Department of Agriculture annually. These rates are based on soil classification and productivity. Click here for Ag web site.
Land owners with 10 or more contiguous acres may be eligible for Clean and Green.
Act 156 of 1998 requires that the application be RECEIVED by the Assessment Office on or before JUNE 1st of the year immediately preceding the tax year for which the property owner wants to enroll the property. There is a one-time application and recording fee of $68.50 for each application. Click here for application
Click here for additional information on the Clean & Green program.
Click here for additional information on Act 35 of 2011 pertaining to the exploration or removal of oil & gas that involves properties in Clean & Green.
Frequently Asked Questions About
Clean & Green
What is the cost to enroll my land in the Clean & Green Program?
There is a one-time, non-refundable application fee of $50.00, and a recording fee of $18.50.
When may I apply for enrollment in Clean & Green?
The deadline for enrolling in the Clean & Green program is June 1st of each year. The application becomes effective for the following tax year.
What are the minimum requirements that my land must meet in order to be eligible for Clean & Green?
In order for your land to be eligible for Clean and Green assessment, the Act requires your land to meet the requirements of one of the following three (3) types of uses that the Act identifies as eligible for Clean and Green assessment:
Agricultural Use – lands must have been devoted to agriculture during the previous three (3) years, and must either be a minimum of 10 contiguous acres in area or, if less than 10 acres, must have an anticipated annual gross income from agricultural production of at least $2,000. You may still qualify for Clean and Green under this category even if you do not personally farm the land, as long as you are renting the land to another for use in agricultural production.
Agricultural Reserve – lands are open space lands. In order to qualify, the land must be at least 10 contiguous acres in area, no commercial, and must be open to the public for outdoor recreation or enjoyment of the land’s scenic or natural beauty. The owner may not charge for public access to the property.
Forest Reserve – lands are capable of producing timber. In order to qualify, the land must be at least 10 contiguous acres in area and must be capable of producing at least 25 cubic feet per acre of timber per year.
May I build a house or other buildings on land, I have enrolled in Clean & Green without causing a Clean & Green violation?
The owner may build a house on Clean & Green land. Also, buildings that are necessary for agricultural production may be built on lands enrolled in Clean & Green.
Who determines Clean & Green use values?
Each year, the Department of Agriculture publishes maximum Use Values for each county. Counties may apply Use Values lower than the State maximums as long as they are applied uniformly to all properties and are supportable by county appraisers.
Can I still sell any land once it is enrolled in Clean & Green?
In order to be a “split-off” under the Act, all of the following requirements must be met:
· The amount of land split must not be more than two (2) acres each year
· The total amount of acreage split off must not be greater than 10 acres or 10% of the contiguous acreage enrolled under the application, which ever is less
· The owner of the split-off tract may not use the land for any purpose other than uses associated with Clean and Green and the construction of a residential dwelling that the owner will occupy.
In order to be a “separation” under the Act, each of the land tracts resulting from the subdivision must individually meet the minimum eligibility of 10.00 acres or more in order to maintain Clean & Green.
What is rollback tax and how is it imposed on owners of Clean & Green Land?
A rollback tax is imposed for changes in use of Clean and Green property other than the uses normally authorized under the Act. The rollback tax is the difference between the real estate taxes the owner would have paid if the property were assessed under Fair Market Value and the reduced taxes the owner paid under Clean and Green assessment. The rollback tax is imposed on the entire portion of land enrolled under the application.
Interest, at a rate of 6% compounded annually, will also be imposed on the rollback taxes due. If the property has been enrolled in Clean and Green for more than seven (7) years, the rollback taxes are limited to the current year and the six (6) previous years in which the land was enrolled.
If I sell all of my enrolled land to another person, will the sale trigger a rollback tax?
No. A transfer of land to another owner will not trigger a rollback tax if the contiguous area of the land enrolled in Clean and Green is not divided. If the buyer changes the use to an ineligible use, then the buyer will be responsible for the rollback tax.
May I opt out of the Clean & Green program without a rollback tax if I do not change the use?
No. The only way out of the program is to change the use, which triggers a rollback tax. Remember that the maximum period a rollback tax may be charged is for the most recent seven (7) years.
May I appeal the Clean & Green Value?
Yes, you can appeal the Clean & Green under one of the three categories listed below:
If you are challenging the Use Category assigned, you must provide either orthographic photos indicating the proper use category (these may by obtained from the US Farm Service Agency, 542 County Farm Rd, Montoursville, PA, (570) 433-3902), IRS schedule “F” if you filed as a farm, or IRS schedule “C” if you filed as a tree farm.
If you are challenging the Base Acre value you must show the cost to acquire one acre and the cost to improve that acre. Improvements include, but are not limited to a water system, a sewer system, access driveways, culverts, site preparation, power line cost from the pole, telephone line cost from the pole, and general landscaping. These costs may be obtained from a reputable contractor.
You may challenge the Clean & Green rates established by the Department of Agriculture, however you will be required to provide expert analysis to challenge them.
Do I need to notify the county when I sell land or the ownership changes?
You will also need to file an Amended Clean & Green application (Click here for the form) because either the ownership has changed or land was sold off.