Updated: Nov 5, 2020
By Nicole Cook
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Maryland landowners with ten or more honeybee colonies per acre of land may now be eligible to receive an agricultural use tax assessment to lower their property taxes. In October, the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation exercised its discretion and revised its policy to include beekeeping as one of the agricultural use activities that may qualify a parcel of land for the reduced property tax assessment that’s applied to farmland under Maryland’s Tax-Property Article, Section 8-209. Keep reading if you’re a landowner who would like to use all or part of your qualifying land for beekeeping.
The purpose of Maryland’s Agricultural Use Assessment law is to encourage landowners to keep their land in agricultural use, as opposed to developing the land for more intensive uses. It does this by providing landowners who actually use the land for agricultural purposes with a tax benefit. Generally, under the law, land that is actively and primarily devoted to agricultural uses is eligible to receive the tax savings. The Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) administers the assessment and determines whether farmland is being actively used for agricultural purposes. As of October 1, 2019, under SDAT’s revised Maryland Assessment Procedure Manual, a parcel of land that is more than three acres but less than twenty acres in size is eligible to receive the agricultural use assessment if it has ten or more honeybee colonies per acre on it.
Honeybees are an important pollinator species beneficial to agriculture. And raising honeybees for harvesting honey and beeswax as well as for pollinating crops is a source of income for beekeepers. Recognizing beekeeping as an agricultural use of land for purposes of providing a tax incentive for landowners helps encourage landowners to allow beekeeping on their land. It’s important, however, to remember that the assessment applies to the land, not to the property owner. SDAT’s determination is whether or not the land is “actively used” for farm or agricultural purposes. As such, under STAD’s revised procedures, in order for beekeeping to be considered in the use test, during each reassessment cycle, the landowner must provide SDAT’s Supervisor of Assessments with the yearly apiary inspection recertification from the Maryland Department of Agriculture.
For questions about whether your farmland or woodland qualifies to receive the agricultural use assessment, consult a qualified attorney or accountant who can assess the particulars of your property. For a list of attorneys in Maryland, see the Maryland State Bar Association Legal Services Directory on the Agriculture Law Education Initiative’s website.