Jake Hendee, Consulting Forester
Illinois Forestry Development Act Example. Let's say you've purchased 40 acres of woods for $100,000 to hunt trophy whitetails. Without doing anything, you would be taxed each year at 1/3 its value ($33,333) times the local tax rate (let's say 7.5%). Approximately $2,500. You decide that paying that much in taxes is silly, so you cut down all the trees and plant turnips in order to pay agricultural tax rates. The soil is Westville Silt Loam with a Productivity Index of 100 (pretty average). That means you're taxed at 40 acres times the assessed value per acre ($87.23) times the local tax rate (let's say 7.5%). Now you're paying $262 per year on your "ag ground." Pretend your new ag ground doesn't produce turnips very well, so you replant the trees. But this time, your friend has tipped you off to the Illinois Forestry Development Act. You hire a consulting forester to write a forest management plan. Now, it's taxed at 1/6th its equalized assessed ag value: 40 acres times $87.23 per acre times 1/6 times the 7.5% local tax rate. Your property taxes are now $43.62 per year. Not bad. What will your forest management plan save you over 10 years?
Note: Wooded acreage assessments across the state are subject to various adjust factors and inconsistencies, so this is a generalization of an otherwise complicated system of varying applications across the state. Your tax assessor can answer questions about your specific property.
As foresters, we often run into frequent confusion and exasperated landowners trying to navigate the Illinois Forestry Development Act. In 1983, the Illinois legislature passed the Forestry Development Act to promote sustainable forestry on private lands. Landowners practicing sustainable forestry were the primary beneficiaries of such a program. The state of Illinois recognizes the importance of undeveloped forestlands. Unfortunately, landowners often only learn of the Forest Development Act through sticker shock when their taxes are being rolled back to full price.
1. Landowners with a certified forest management plan receive the best tax rates. A plan is a good investment, even if you don't consider the financial benefits of sustainable forest management.
2. Keep your plan current. A current plan guarantees the best property tax rates.
3. Cost share funding is available through the Forest Development Act. By law, the 4% timber harvest tax in the state of Illinois goes back to landowners by funding cost share forest improvement practices. Unfortunately, your politicians have their hand in the piggy bank.