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Exemption Administration Manual, Part 2: Agricultural and Forest—Section 4.08 - RPTL Section 480: Forest and Reforested Lands (Fisher Act) (Certified prior to 9/1/74)

Assessor Manuals

Section 4.08 - RPTL Section 480: Forest and Reforested Lands (Fisher Act) (Certified prior to 9/1/74)

Exemption code(s)


Year originally enacted:


Related statutes:

RPTL § §480-a, 586


Privately owned real property certified as eligible forest or reforested land by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) prior to September 1, 1974 is exempt from taxation to the extent of the value of the forest growth on the property; no exemption is allowed for special ad valorem levies or special assessments, including fire district taxes. In addition, so long as the forest growth remains uncut, the taxable portion of the property (the land and any buildings or other structures) is eligible for a limited assessment, which is described below under Calculation of Exemption.

At least 30 days prior to any cutting of the forest growth, the owner must notify the assessor of the planned cutting and, prior to removal of the timber from the premises, must pay a yield tax of 6% of the timber's stumpage value, as determined by the assessor. Payment of the yield tax is also required under certain other conditions (see Payments in lieu of taxes below).

Eligibility requirements

Ownership requirements:

Property must be owned by a private organization or individual.

Property location requirements:


Property use requirements:

Property must have been certified as an eligible tract" by DEC. An eligible tract is defined as forest land of at least 15 acres (a) which has been planted with an average of not less than 800 trees per acre, (b) which has been underplanted with an average of not less than 300 trees per acre, (c) upon which the majority of the mature timber has been removed in such a manner as to ensure a crop of saleable timber or pulpwood, or (d) upon which, at the time of classification as an eligible tract, there is an immature stand sufficient to produce such a crop within 30 years.

Certification by state or local government:

Tracts receiving this exemption must have been issued a certificate of approval from DEC prior to September 1, 1974.

Required construction start date or other time requirement:


Local option


Limitation on exemption

Limitation on exemption by amount, duration, and taxing jurisdiction
General municipal taxes School district taxes Special ad valorem tax Special assessments
1. Amount Yes* Yes* No exemption allowed No exemption allowed
2. Duration No limit No limit No exemption allowed No exemption allowed
3. Taxing Jurisdiction a. County or County Special Districts Ex NA Tax Tax
b. City Ex NA NA Tax
c. Town or Town Special District Ex NA Tax Tax
d. Village Ex NA NA Tax
e. School District NA Ex NA NA
Ex-Exempt     Tax-Taxable     NA-Not Applicable

**Limited to the value of forest growth.

Payments in lieu of taxes

None required. However, payment of a yield tax of 6% of the stumpage value of the timber, as determined by the assessor, is required in each of the following situations:

  1. When any forest growth is cut, payment of the tax must be made prior to removal of the timber from the premises. (The following are exempt from the yield tax: (a) wood or timber cut annually for the owner's own use that has a total stumpage value of $25 or less and (b) thinnings made with the approval of DEC for the purpose of improving forest growth.)
  2. When no forest growth is cut but, as determined by DEC, the tract contains on the average 40,000 board feet of saleable soft wood per acre or 20,000 board feet of saleable hard wood per acre (or, where there is a mixture of the two kinds of wood, the relative percentages of such amounts). In this case, if none of the timber is cut within two years of the DEC determination, the yield tax becomes payable at the end of the two-year period, and at that time the tract becomes ineligible for exemption and limited assessment under RPTL §480.
  3. When an owner voluntarily withdraws from the §480 program and does not become eligible for the forest taxation program authorized by RPTL §480-a.

Calculation of exemption

General municipal and school district taxes:

  1. Exemption: 100% of assessed value of forest growth.
  2. Limited assessment: Assessed value of taxable portion of property (land and any buildings or other structures) may not exceed:
    1.  the value of similar lands without substantial forest growth that are located in the same assessing unit, and
    2. the value fixed at the time of application for exemption under this statute.

However, the assessed value may be increased or decreased to reflect a change in the level of assessment on any assessment roll prepared after the forest property's limited assessment was determined as described above.  Accordingly, the exempt value (of the forest growth) can be calculated as the total assessed value of the parcel in the year of change in assessment level minus the limited assessment in the prior roll year multiplied by the change in level factor.

Exempt value = Assessed value – (limited assessed value in prior year * change in level factor).

Example:  In a given assessment roll year a parcel is listed with an assessed value of $100,000, of which $80,000 is forest growth value exempt under RPTL §480, and $20,000 with a limited assessment.  In the following roll year the municipality reassess property throughout the jurisdiction, whereby the level of assessment throughout the municipality increases from 0.25 to 1.00 (to full value); therefore, the change of level factor is four.  Assume that the assessed value on the subject parcel also increases by the same factor.  The exempt value of the parcel in this roll year would now equal $400,000 -- ($20,000 * 4.00), or $320,000.

If a watershed conservation easement (pursuant to 49 ECL) is purchased by New York City on a parcel having this exemption, the exemption on the underlying fee interest is adjusted in the same proportion as the "allocation factor," as determined by the City's independent appraisal. (The allocation factor is defined as the portion of the value of each parcel (less improvements) which the easement represents, expressed as a percentage).

Special ad valorem levies and special assessments:

No exemption allowed.

Coding of exemption on assessment roll

Coding of exemption on assessment roll
Code Description of alternative codes possible

Assessment roll section(s):

Taxable (RPS Section 1).

Note: This code should not be used to identify property that is exempt under any of the statutes listed under Similar Exemptions below. For coding of such property, see the Exemption Profile for the statute that applies.

Filing requirements (owner or occupant of property)

None. Enrollment in this program was closed as of September 1, 1974. Recertification by the current property owner or by a subsequent owner is not required.

Reporting requirements (assessor)


Similar exemptions

Similar exemptions
Subject Statute
Forest land (certified on or after 9/1/74) RPTL §480-a

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