Get ready for agricultural tax classification requests.

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If land in Florida is used for a “bona fide agricultural purpose,” the land may classified as agricultural property, under section 193.461, Florida Statutes. But you need to file a request with your property appraiser by March 1. If you miss the deadline, you need to show some kind of “extenuating circumstances.” Each county has its own agricultural exemption form. For example, in my home county, Hillsborough County, you can apply for “Green Belt Classification” online.

Even if you do not use land to produce food, your land may still be used for an “agricultural purpose.” Agricultural purpose encompasses much more than food production. As long as there is something raised or grown on the land that is “useful to humans,” there is agricultural purpose. In McLendon v. Nikolits, the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal recognized raising wild birds to sell as pets counted as an “agricultural purpose” because pets have “novelty or entertainment value.” It does not matter whether the consumer eats what you sow, looks at it, plays with it, or becomes friends with it.

What matters is whether there is “good faith commercial agricultural use of the land.” The Department of Revenue defines “good faith commercial agricultural use” in regulations as a “reasonable intention” to make a “resonable profit.” Under the Regulations – Florida Administrative Code Rule 12D-5.00, “the profit or reasonable expectation thereof must be viewed from the standpoint of the fee owner and measured in light of his investment.” Land bought for cheap allows more room for profit. But if land is bought at a higher cost, the investment cost will be higher. It will become more difficult to show a reasonable expectation of meeting investment cost and realizing a profit. It will become more difficult to get an agricultural classification.

The property appraiser, and later the value adjustment board, may consider other factors to consider whether there are bona fide agricultural purposes, including the length of time the land was used for agriculture, whether that use was continuous, size, and efforts to use the land for agricultural purposes.

The time is ripe for low tax rates. Apply with your property appraiser now. If you need help, please feel free to contact me.

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