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Title 1. Property Tax Code
Subtitle D. Appraisal and Assessment

Chapter 23. Appraisal Methods and Procedures
Subchapter C. Land Designated for Agricultural Use

Sec. 23.41. Appraisal.
Sec. 23.42. Eligibility.
Sec. 23.425. Eligibility of Land Used for Growing Florist Items in Certain Counties.
Sec. 23.43. Application.
Sec. 23.431. Late Application for Agricultural Designation.
Sec. 23.44. Action on Application.
Sec. 23.45. Application Confidential.
Sec. 23.46. Additional Taxation.
Sec. 23.47. Loan Secured by Lien on Agricultural-Use Land.

[Sections 23.48 to 23.50 reserved for expansion]

Sec. 23.41. Appraisal.

(a) Land designated for agricultural use is appraised at its value based on the land's capacity to produce agricultural products. The value of land based on its capacity to produce agricultural products is determined by capitalizing the average net income the land would have yielded under prudent management from production of agricultural products during the five years preceding the current year. However, if the value of land as determined by capitalization of average net income exceeds the market value of the land as determined by other generally accepted appraisal methods, the land shall be appraised by application of the other appraisal methods.

(b) The comptroller shall promulgate rules specifying the methods to apply and the procedures to use in appraising land designated for agricultural use.

(c) Repealed in 1999.

(d) Repealed in 1999.

(e) Improvements other than appurtenances to the land, the mineral estate, and all land used for residential purposes and for processing harvested agricultural products are appraised sep-arately at market value. Riparian water rights, private roads, dams, reservoirs, water wells, and canals, ditches, terraces, and similar reshapings of or additions to the soil for agricultural purposes are appurtenances to the land, and the effect of each on the value of the land for agricultural use shall be considered in appraising the land. However, the comptroller shall provide that in calculating average net income from land a deduction from income be allowed for an appurtenance subject to depreciation or depletion.

Amended by 1981 Tex. Laws (1st C.S.), p. 139, ch. 13, Sec. 60; amended by 1991 Tex. Laws (2nd C.S.), p. 30, ch. 6, Sec. 21; amended by 1999 Tex. Laws, p. 3115, ch. 574, Sec. 2(2).

Cross References:

Constitutional authorization, see art. VIII, Sec. 1-d, Tex. Const.
Valuation of open-space and agricultural lands, see Rule Sec. 9.4001.
Special appraisal records, see Sec. 25.011.
Listing in appraisal records, see Sec. 25.02(a)(5).

Notes:

Article 7150k (repealed, now see this section) requiring value of agricultural land to be determined on the basis of income capitalization methods was unconstitutional under constitutional provision requiring that property taxes for land be assessed based only on consideration of factors relative to agricultural use. Jones v. Hutchinson County, 615 S.W.2d 927 (Tex. App.-Amarillo 1981, no writ).

Individual residences are not part of the land to be valued as part of agricultural land. Separate assessment is proper. King v. Real, 466 S.W.2d 1 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 1971, writ ref'd n.r.e.).

Sec. 23.42. Eligibility.

(a) An individual is entitled to have land he owns designated for agricultural use if, on January 1:

(1) the land has been devoted exclusively to or developed continuously for agriculture for the three years preceding the current year;

(2) he is using and intends to use the land for agriculture as an occupation or a business venture for profit during the current year; and

(3) agriculture is his primary occupation and primary source of income.

(b) Use of land for nonagricultural purposes does not deprive an owner of his right to an agricultural designation if the nonagricultural use is secondary to and compatible with the agricultural use of the land.

(c) Agriculture is an individual's primary occupation and primary source of income if as of January 1 he devotes a greater portion of his time to and derives a greater portion of his gross income from agriculture than any other occupation. The time an individual devotes to each occupation and the gross income he derives from each is determined by averaging the time he devoted to each and the gross income he derived from each for any number of consecutive years not exceeding five years immediately preceding January 1 of the current year, that he has engaged in agriculture as an occupation. However, if he has not been engaged in agriculture as an occupation for the entire year preceding January 1, the time he has devoted to and the income he has derived from each occupation since the date he began engaging in agriculture as an occupation determine whether agriculture is his primary occupation and primary source of income.

(d) For purposes of this section:

(1) "Agriculture" means the use of land to produce plant or animal products, including fish or poultry products, under natural conditions but does not include the processing of plant or animal products after harvesting or the production of timber or forest products.

(2) "Occupation" includes employment and a business venture that requires continual supervision or management.

Notes:

There are two requirements before a person may have land appraised as agricultural land: first, the land must be used principally for agricultural purposes, and second, the property owner's primary occupation must be agricultural business. It is sufficient if the property owner shows that he devotes a greater amount of time to his agricultural business than other business and that he receives more in gross income from agricultural pursuits. Officials are under an obligation to ignore artificial arrangements to qualify for special treatment. It is unfair to disqualify as property owner from this tax benefit simply because the greater portion of his income came from social security, retirement, inheritance or any other source that was not an occupation or business venture operated for profit. Thus, sales of land, principal and interest payments on notes given as partial payments for land, rentals from inherited commercial property, oil and gas bonus and delay rentals from unsolicited mineral leases, and income for old age assistance should not count against the person who is attempting to qualify land as agricultural land. Gragg v. Cayuga Independent School District, 539 S.W.2d 861 (Tex. 1976).

A taxpayer who received $8,000 gross income from non-agricultural activities and only $1,582.70 gross income from agricultural activities did not qualify for special appraisal. The two requisites for agricultural use valuation are that the agricultural operation was the primary business of the taxpayer judged by commitment of effort and receipt of income. Maxwell v. White, 564 S.W.2d 396 (Tex. App.-Ft. Worth 1978, no writ).

It is the beneficiaries and not the trustee who will receive the benefit of an agricultural assessment. Thus, it should be the beneficiaries' occupations and incomes that should be reviewed when determining whether or not land qualifies. City of Mesquite v. Malouf, 553 S.W.2d 639 (Tex. App.-Texarkana 1977, writ ref'd n.r.e.).

The statutory definition of agriculture includes fish and other forms of aquatic life. However, the mere harvesting of fish or shellfish from the natural environment would not qualify as an agricultural use. Op. Tex. Att'y Gen. No. JM-87 (1983).

Sec. 23.425. Eligibility of Land Used for Growing Florist Items in Certain Counties.

(a) This section applies only to land:

(1) that is located in a county with a population of 35,000 or less; and

(2) on which a greenhouse for growing florist items solely for wholesale purposes is located.

(b) A person who owns land described by Subsection (a) is entitled to have the land designated for agricultural use under this subchapter if the land otherwise qualifies for the designation under Section 23.42 and the person who owns the land is not using it in conjunction with or contiguous to land being used to conduct retail sales of florist items. For purposes of Section 23.41, a greenhouse described by Subsection (a)(2) is an appurtenance to the land.

(c) In this section:

(1) "Florist item" has the meaning assigned by Section 71.041, Agriculture Code.

(2) "Greenhouse" means a building or permanent structure that is enclosed with a nonporous covering and is designed or constructed for growing plants in a protected or climate-controlled environment.

Added by SB 1272, 77th Tex. Leg., 2001, eff. January 1, 2002.

Sec. 23.43. Application.

(a) An individual claiming the right to have his land designated for agricultural use must apply for the designation each year he claims it. Application for the designation is made by filing a sworn application form with the chief appraiser for the appraisal district in which the land is located.

(b) A claimant must deliver a completed application form to the chief appraiser before May 1 and must furnish the information required by the form. For good cause shown the chief appraiser may extend the deadline for filing the application by written order for a single period not to exceed 60 days.

(c) If a claimant fails to timely file a completed application form in a given year, he may not receive the agricultural designation for that year.

(d) The comptroller in prescribing the contents of the application forms shall ensure that each form requires a claimant to furnish the information necessary to determine the validity of the claim. The comptroller shall require that the form permit a claimant who has previously been allowed an agricultural designation to indicate that previously reported information has not changed and to supply only the eligibility information not previously reported.

(e) Before February 1 the chief appraiser shall deliver an application form to each individual whose land was designated for agricultural use during the preceding year. He shall include with the application a brief explanation of the requirements for obtaining agricultural designation.

(f) Each year the chief appraiser for each appraisal district shall publicize, in a manner reasonably designed to notify all residents of the district, the requirements of this section and the availability of application forms.

Amended by 1981 Tex. Laws (1st C.S.), p. 139, ch. 13, Secs. 61 & 62; amended by 1991 Tex. Laws (2nd C.S.), p. 31, ch. 6, Sec. 22.

Cross References:

Special use application forms, see Rule Sec. 9.402.

Sec. 23.431. Late Application For Agricultural Designation.

(a) The chief appraiser shall accept and approve or deny an application for an agricultural designation after the deadline for filing it has passed if it is filed before approval of the appraisal records by the appraisal review board.

(b) If an application for agricultural designation is approved when the application is filed late, the owner is liable for a penalty of 10 percent of the difference between the amount of tax imposed on the property and the amount that would be imposed without the agricultural designation.

(c) The chief appraiser shall make an entry on the appraisal records indicating the person's liability for the penalty and shall deliver written notice of imposition of the penalty, explaining the reason for its imposition, to the person.

(d) The tax assessor for a taxing unit to which an agricultural designation allowed after a late application applies shall add the amount of the penalty to the owner's tax bill, and the tax collector for the unit shall collect the penalty at the time and in the manner he collects the tax. The amount of the penalty constitutes a lien against the property against which the penalty is imposed, as if it were a tax, and accrues penalty and interest in the same manner as a delinquent tax.

Added by 1981 Tex. Laws (1st C.S.), p. 140, ch. 13, Sec. 63.

Cross References:

Approval of records by appraisal review board, see Sec. 25.24.
Contents of tax bill, see Sec. 31.01(d).
Penalties and interest on a delinquent tax, see Sec. 33.01.

Sec. 23.44. Action on Application.

(a) The chief appraiser shall determine individually each claimant's right to the agricultural designation. After considering the application and all relevant information, the chief appraiser shall, as the law and facts warrant:

(1) approve the application and designate the land for agricultural use;

(2) disapprove the application and request additional information from the claimant in support of the claim; or

(3) deny the application.

(b) If the chief appraiser requests additional information from a claimant, the claimant must furnish the information within 30 days after the date of the request or the application is denied. However, for good cause shown the chief appraiser may extend the deadline for furnishing additional information by written order for a single period not to exceed 15 days.

(c) The chief appraiser shall determine the validity of each application for agricultural designation filed with him before he submits the appraisal records for review and determination of protests as provided by Chapter 41 of this code.

(d) If the chief appraiser denies an application, he shall deliver a written notice of the denial to the claimant within five days after the date of denial. The notice must include a brief explanation of the procedures for protesting the denial.

Amended by 1981 Tex. Laws (1st C.S.), p. 140, ch. 13, Sec. 64.

Cross References:

Chief appraiser must deliver notice of denial before submitting records to appraisal review board, see Sec. 25.22(a).
Property owner may protest denial of special appraisal, see Sec. 41.41(1).
Challenge of improper grant of special appraisal, see Sec. 41.03(4).

Sec. 23.45. Application Confidential.

(a) An application for agricultural designation filed with a chief appraiser is confidential and not open to public inspection. The application and the information it contains about specific property or a specific owner may not be disclosed to anyone other than an employee of the appraisal office who appraises property except as authorized by Subsection (b) of this section.

(b) Information made confidential by this section may be dis-closed:

(1) in a judicial or administrative proceeding pursuant to a lawful subpoena;

(2) to the person who filed the application or to his representative authorized in writing to receive the information;

(3) to the comptroller and his employees authorized by him in writing to receive the information or to an assessor or a chief appraiser if requested in writing;

(4) in a judicial or administrative proceeding relating to property taxation to which the person who filed the application is a party;

(5) for statistical purposes if in a form that does not identify specific property or a specific property owner; or

(6) if and to the extent the information is required to be included in a public document or record that the appraisal office is required to prepare or maintain.

(c) A person who legally has access to an application for agricultural designation or who legally obtains the confidential information the application contains commits a Class B misdemeanor if he knowingly:

(1) permits inspection of the application by a person not authorized to inspect it by Subsection (b) of this section; or

(2) discloses confidential information contained in the report to a person not authorized to receive the information by Subsection (b) of this section.

Amended by 1981 Tex. Laws (1st C.S.), p. 141, ch. 13, Sec. 65; amended by 1991 Tex. Laws (2nd C.S.), p. 31, ch. 6, Sec. 23.

Cross References:

Open Records Act, see ch. 551, Government Code.

Sec. 23.46. Additional Taxation.

(a) When appraising land designated for agricultural use, the chief appraiser also shall appraise the land at its market value and shall record both the market value and the value based on its capacity to produce agricultural products in the appraisal records.

(b) Property taxes imposed on land designated for agricultural use are based on the land's agricultural use value determined as provided by Section 23.41 of this code after the appropriate assessment ratio has been applied to that value. When an assessor calculates the amount of tax due on the land, however, he shall also calculate the amount of tax that would have been imposed had the land not been designated for agricultural use. The difference in the amount of tax imposed and the amount that would have been imposed is the amount of additional tax for that year, and the assessor shall enter that amount in his tax records relating to the property.

(c) If land that has been designated for agricultural use in any year is sold or diverted to a nonagricultural use, the total amount of additional taxes for the three years preceding the year in which the land is sold or diverted plus interest at the rate provided for delinquent taxes becomes due. A determination that the land has been diverted to a nonagricultural use is made by the chief appraiser. For purposes of this subsection, the chief appraiser may not consider any period during which land is owned by the state in determining whether the land has been diverted to a nonagricultural use. The chief appraiser shall deliver a notice of the determination to the owner of the land as soon as possible after making the determination and shall include in the notice an explanation of the owner's right to protest the determination. If the owner does not file a timely protest or if the final determination of the protest is that the additional taxes are due, the assessor for each taxing unit shall prepare and deliver a bill for the additional taxes plus interest as soon as practicable after the change of use occurs. If the additional taxes are due because of a sale of the land, the assessor for each taxing unit shall prepare and deliver the bill as soon as practicable after the sale occurs. The taxes and interest are due and become delinquent and incur penalties and interest as provided by law for ad valorem taxes imposed by the taxing unit if not paid before the next February 1 that is at least 20 days after the date the bill is delivered to the owner of the land.

(d) A tax lien attaches to the land on the date the sale or change of use occurs to secure payment of the additional tax and interest imposed by Subsection (c) of this section and any penalties incurred. The lien exists in favor of all taxing units for which the additional tax is imposed.

(e) Land is not diverted to nonagricultural use for purposes of Subsection (c) of this section solely because the owner of the land claims it as part of his residence homestead for purposes of Section 11.13 of this code.

Amended by 1981 Tex. Laws (1st C.S.), p. 141, ch. 13, Sec. 66; amended by 1983 Tex. Laws, p. 4147, ch. 652, Sec. 1; amended by 1983 Tex. Laws, p. 4824, ch. 851, Sec. 11; amended by 1989 Tex. Laws, p. 3598, ch. 796, Sec. 18; amended by 1997 Tex. Laws, p. 1474, ch. 345, Sec. 4.

Cross References:

Contents of tax bill, see Sec. 31.01(c)(3).
Notice of additional tax liability, see Sec. 5.010, Property Code.
Rollback procedures compared, see Rule Sec. 9.4001.

Notes:

Owners of 1-d land are not liable for rollback taxes on land taken in an eminent domain proceeding. Op. Tex. Att'y Gen. No. M-949 (1988).

Sec. 23.47. Loan Secured by Lien on Agricultural-Use Land.

(a) A lender may not require as a condition to granting or amending the terms of a loan secured by a lien in favor of the lender on land appraised according to this subchapter that the borrower waive the right to the appraisal or agree not to apply for or receive the appraisal.

(b) A provision in an instrument pertaining to a loan secured by a lien in favor of the lender on land appraised according to this subchapter is void to the extent that the provision attempts to require the borrower to waive the right to the appraisal or to prohibit the borrower from applying for or receiving the appraisal.

(c) A provision in an instrument pertaining to a loan secured by a lien in favor of the lender on land appraised according to this subchapter that requires the borrower to make a payment to protect the lender from loss because of the imposition of additional taxes and interest under Section 23.46 is void unless the provision:

(1) requires the borrower to pay into an escrow account established by the lender an amount equal to the additional taxes and interest that would be due under Section 23.46 if a sale or change of use occurred on January 1 of the year in which the loan is granted or amended;

(2) requires the escrow account to bear interest to be credited to the account monthly;

(3) permits the lender to apply money in the escrow account to the payment of a bill for additional taxes and interest under Section 23.46 before the loan is paid and requires the lender to refund the balance remaining in the escrow account after the bill is paid to the borrower; and

(4) requires the lender to refund the money in the escrow account to the borrower on the payment of the loan.

(d) On the request of the borrower or the borrower's representative, the assessor for each taxing unit shall compute the additional taxes and interest that would be due that taxing unit under Section 23.46 if a sale or change of use occurred on January 1 of the year in which the loan is granted or amended. The assessor may charge a reasonable fee not to exceed the actual cost of making the computation.

(e) In this section, "lender" means a lending institution, including a bank, trust company, banking association, savings and loan association, mortgage company, investment bank, credit union, life insurance company, or governmental agency that customarily provides financing or an affiliate of any of those entities. The term does not include an agency of the United States.

Added by 1995 Tex. Laws, p. 851, ch. 82, Sec. 1.

Cross References:

Loan secured on open-space land, see Sec. 23.58.
Rollback taxes for sale or change of use, see Sec. 23.46.
Rollback tax procedures compared, see Rule Sec. 9.4001.

[Sections 23.48 to 23.50 reserved for expansion]