Land Use Assessment Program
In 1971, the General Assembly enacted a law permitting localities to adopt a program of special assessment for agricultural, horticultural, forest and open space lands. These laws are contained in Sections 58.1-3229 through 58.1-3244 of the Code of Virginia.
Loudoun County adopted the Land Use Assessment Program in 1973. The program provides for the deferral of real estate taxes when a property meets qualifying standards for agricultural, horticultural, forestry or open spaces uses. Assessed values under the program are generally less than those estimated at fair market value. The requirements of the program are contained in Chapter 848 of the Codified Ordinances of Loudoun County.
The purposes of the program are stated as:
• To encourage the preservation and proper use of such real estate in order to assure a readily available source of agricultural, horticultural and forest products and of open spaces with the reach of concentrations of population;
• To conserve natural resources in forms, which will prevent erosion, and to protect adequate and safe water supplies;
• To promote proper land-use planning and the orderly development of real estate for the accommodation of an expanding population, and;
• To promote a balanced economy and ameliorate pressures which force conversion of such real estate to more intensive uses and which are attributable in part to the assessment of such real estate at values incompatible with its use and preservation for agricultural, horticultural, forest or open space purposes;
While the Code of Virginia sets out the basic prerequisites for a landowner wishing to qualify for use-value assessments, it has assigned the responsibility for prescribing uniform standards for qualification to the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services (agricultural and horticultural lands), The State Forester (forest lands) and the Director of the Department of Conservation and Recreation. Further, to aid localities in arriving at use-value assessments, the law has established the State Land Evaluation Advisory Council (SLEAC). SLEAC is composed of these four departments plus the Virginia Tax Commissioner and the Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences of Virginia Tech.
Standards for Classification
SLEAC publishes the Standards for Classification as required by the Code of Virginia Title 58.1-3236. These standards set forth the general and specific requirements to qualify a property for Land Use Assessments. A summary of the Standards for Classification can be accessed below.
Filing Dates and Fees
First-time Land Use applications and Renewal applications must be submitted by November 1 prior to the tax year the Land Use Assessment is being requested. The filing fee for Land Use Assessment is $125 plus $1 per qualified acre in the program. Applications submitted after the deadline - November 2 through December 5 are subject to a $300 per parcel late filing fee along with the standard filing fee of $125 plus $1 per acre. No first-time applications or renewal applications will be accepted after the December 5th deadline.
Owners of real property currently enrolled in the Land use Assessment program must renew their land use status every 6th year by submitting a renewal packet including documentation corroborating the qualifying use along with the required fee by the filing deadline. Renewal packets were mailed the first week of September to those currently enrolled who are up for renewal.
An additional deferral of taxes is available to current program participants if they sign and record a sliding scale agreement to keep the property in its qualifying use for more than 5 but not exceeding 20 years. The agreement must be filed with our office by November 1st and recorded in the Loudoun County Clerk of the Circuit Court's office by December 31st.
Assistance is available either over the telephone or in our office. In order to manage workloads and reduce waiting time for assistance, please call 703-737-8557 to schedule an appointment or to speak with a staff member. You may access the application below or by contacting our office.