Florida legislation provides two avenues of property tax relief for conservation easements, environmentally endangered lands, and other conservation areas that retain the natural landscape and ecosystem. The first is a conservation land Classification. The second is a property tax Exemption. The land must meet the requirements of a conservation easement in section 704.06 of the Florida Statutes.
The Classification provides that the value of land used for conservation purposes be assessed at its present use, much like the existing agricultural classification does for agricultural land (193.501 F.S.).
To qualify for the conservation land Classification, the land must meet one of the following criteria:
• Must be a conservation easement, which retains land or water areas in their natural condition and limits dumping, removal of trees, dredging, construction of buildings, roads, etc. on the property. Conservation easements are often created through a deed restriction or condition.
- Land must be qualified and designated as environmentally endangered;
- Land must be designated as conservation land in a comprehensive municipal plan; or
- Land utilized for outdoor recreational or park purposes, such as land used for boating, camping, swimming, horseback riding, or scenic sites.
- AND the land must be conveyed to the board of a public agency for preservation of the land for not less than 10 years.
Owners of non-commercial land of 40 acres or more that is dedicated in perpetuity for conservation purposes may file for a 100% exemption. If the dedicated 40+ acres is commercial property it may be eligible for a 50% exemption. Dedicated in perpetuity means the land is encumbered by an irrevocable, perpetual conservation easement. These easements survive sales, inheritances, and even tax deed sales. (196.26 F.S.)
Buildings and other improvements on exempt land will be assessed separately. If the commercial use of the land is agricultural, the owner must comply with best management practices.
If it is less than 40 acres, then you must provide documentation from the Department of State’s Acquisition and Restoration Council (ARC) – indicating that the property fulfills a “clearly delineated state conservation policy” and yields a “significant public benefit”.
How to File
You may apply by mail or in person at during the application filing period of January 2 and March 1. If applying by mail, send your application along with the required documentation to:
Jefferson County Property Appraiser’s Office
Attn: Exemptions Dept.
480 W Walnut Street
Monticello, Florida 32344