IDAHO'S FOREST TAX LAW AND THE TIMBER PROGRAM
WHAT IS THE TIMBER PROGRAM; HOW DO I QUALIFY AND APPLY FOR THE TIMBER CLASSIFICATION?
Reference Idaho Code 63-1701 through 63-1706. The Idaho Code describes forestland as privately-owned land held and used primarily to grow and harvest trees of a marketable species and may be further identified by consideration of any of the following criteria:
Present use and silvicultural treatment evidence forestland.
Forestland has a dedicated use, which is further evidenced by a forestland management plan that includes eventual harvest of the forest crop.
Forestland is bearing forest growth or land NOT converted to another use.
Forestland which has had the trees removed by man through harvest, including clearcuts or by natural disaster, such as, but not limited to, fire, and which, within five (5) years after harvest or initial assessment, will be reforested as specified by the Forest Practices Act (Idaho Code, Chapter 13, Title 38).
To qualify for the timber program, forest land owners must devote a minimum of 5.0 fully-stocked acres, excluding any improvements, to management of the timber for eventual harvest. Forest land ownership is held in two ways:
Ownership of 5.0 or more acres but less than 5,000 acres
Ownership of 5,000 or more acres
The deadline to submit timber applications and management plans is December 31 of each year to qualify for the timber program in the following year. You must submit one application form, called the "Owner's Designation of Forest Land Option," for each individually assessed parcel. You may submit a Timberland Management Plan to cover each group of contiguous parcels (adjacent, or sharing the same parcel border) that you will manage as a single stand of timber. Timber application packets are available in the Assessor's, or you may request the forms by calling or writing our office.
FOREST LAND (TAX) OPTIONS WITHIN THE TIMBER PROGRAM
There are two forest land assessment options from which individual landowners (fewer than 5,000 acres total statewide ownership) may choose. The individual owners must designate the option under which they want their lands assessed. They are required by law to place all of their timberland ownership statewide under the same option.
Either option requires that landowners manage their timber as a crop that will be commercially harvested and sold (in part or whole) at some point in time. If landowners do not wish to raise their trees for harvest, they should not apply for this program.
When land is accepted into the timber program, it is classified as timberland and is assessed at a lower rate per acre than full market value rates. The intent is to enable landowners to use the tax dollars saved to actively manage the timber for harvest. The rates vary in Idaho according to your land's location in one of four value zones within the State. Boundary County is in Zone 1. The assessment rates per acre within each zone vary according to whether the land is graded as good, medium or poor production ground (production is how much tree growth occurs per acre, per year.). These production grades are placed by the Assessor's Office.
For landowners with ownership of 5,000 or more acres, the forest tax law requires that the land be assessed under the Land Productivity tax option. For ownership of 5.0 acres to 5,000 acres, the owner may select either the Land Productivity option or the Bare Land and Yield option. A landowner must designate all their forestland in the State of Idaho under the same option.
LAND PRODUCTIVITY OPTION
Under this option, every year the landowner pays taxes on the assessed value for the land and projected year growth. The owner does not pay taxes on the timber when it is harvested. When the timbered acres are removed from the timber program for any reason, the land is assessed at full market value. However, the landowner is not required to pay back taxes on the difference in value between full market value and the lower, taxable values placed on the land while it was in the program.
BARE LAND AND YIELD OPTION
Under this option, the landowner defers a portion of the property tax to be paid later.
The assessed value is calculated using rates much lower than those for the Land Productivity option. The owner pays taxes on this lower value for the timberland every year as for any other type of property.
In addition, a 3% yield tax is billed on the value of the timber itself when it is harvested. An advantage of this option is that the property tax may be paid partly from the income generated by sale of the timber.
A 3% yield tax is also charged for timber removed from grazing and cropland; under the question "What is the Agriculture Program, and how do I apply?" see "Yield Tax."
When the land is removed from the Bare Land and Yield option or the timber program, deferred tax may be billed. This tax is based on the difference in total value between the Land Productivity option and the Bare Land and Yield option for the years the land was in the program, not to exceed ten (10) years, and less credit for any yield tax already paid. If the land is removed from the program because it is being developed, the deferred tax calculations are based on the difference between the Bare Land and Yield value and full market value.
A possible advantage of this option is that deferred tax may be paid out of the proceeds of the sale of the land. A possible disadvantage is that non-payment of deferred tax may result in a lien against the property.
Contact the Assessor's Office for information on calculation of yield and deferred tax.
LENGTH OF TIMBER PROGRAM
The land remains in the program for as long as a landowner actively manages the land for eventual timber harvest. A landowner may remove the land from the program at any time, effective as of January 1 of the next year. Owners of 5.0 to 5,000 acres of timberland may elect to change the assessment (tax) option on all properties in the timber program in the State, as of every ten-year anniversary of the 1982 Forest Tax Law. In 2022 owners have the opportunity to change their assessment between Bare Land and Yield / and the Productivity options, effective January 1, 2023.