The Minnesota Department of Revenue is alerting taxpayers of changes the 2008 Tax Bill made to the Green Acres property tax law.

These changes will affect property taxes only if a person's property is currently enrolled in the Green Acres program or will be enrolled in the future.

Non-productive acres such as sloughs, woodlands and wetlands that are not used for agricultural production will no longer be eligible for the reduced agricultural valuation and property tax deferment provided by Green Acres.

Specifically, this legislation changes the number of payback years for parcels, or portions of parcels, that will no longer qualify for Green Acres because they are non-productive acres.

In addition, property that is enrolled in CRP, RIM, or other conservation programs will no longer be eligible for Green Acres.

Only acres used for actual agricultural production will be eligible for Green Acres for all applications filed with the county assessor after May 1, 2008.

Those enrolled in the program prior to May 1, 2008 may remain enrolled for subsequent assessment years until they are sold, withdrawn or no longer qualify, although these existing properties will be subject to the new payback requirements.

Owners of non-productive acres that are currently receiving Green Acres benefits have two options. Non-productive acres currently in the program may be withdrawn from the program or they may remain until any part of the land is sold, transferred or subdivided.

Property owners must notify the county assessor of their intention to withdraw or not withdraw their land by January 2, 2009. Land that is withdrawn will be subject to a payback of the deferred taxes on it.

If owners notify the assessor of their intent to withdraw some or all of their acres on or before January 2, 2009, the assessor will estimate the three-year payback amount and notify the owner of that amount in the summer of 2009.

The final determination to withdraw or not can be made at this time. If the owner decides to withdraw all or part of the land, the tax would then be payable in November 2009.

If any portion of the non-productive property currently enrolled in Green Acres is withdrawn, sold, transferred or subdivided after January 2, 2009, the non-productive land must be removed from the program and will be subject to the new payback of up to seven years of deferred taxes.

Payback provisions on productive acres will remain the same at three years of deferred taxes.

County assessors will soon be sending a letter to inform landowners that are currently enrolled in Green Acres of the options available under the new legislation. Those who have questions should contact their county assessor's office after receiving their letter to discuss these issues.