By Christy Bredenkamp


Effective in 1974, The N.C. General Assembly enacted the Present Use Value program, which allows reduced tax assessments for individuals owning property used for agriculture, horticulture or forestry.

This program is voluntary and was created to keep the family farm in the family and allow farmers to continue farming while property values rise from urban growth.

Property that qualifies and is accepted into this program is taxed at its “present use value” rather than its market value. The difference between the market value and the present use value is “deferred.”

In layman’s terms the property is valued at a lower rate, and therefore the owner’s land is taxed at a lower rate. If for some reason the land becomes disqualified from the PUV program, the deferred taxes for the current year and the previous three years plus interest become due.


Additional Qualification Opportunities

In recent years, conservation easements (2002), “working waterfront” (2007), and land managed for wildlife habitat (2008) under a plan approved by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission became qualified for present use value assessment.

Begin the process by contacting your county tax assessor to see if you qualify.

Basic Requirements:

• Minimum acreage of actual production land:

• 5 acres for horticulture use.

• 10 acres for agricultural use.

• 20 acres for forest use.

• 20 contiguous acres up to 100 acres for wildlife habitat.

• Production in horticulture (Christmas trees) must follow a sound management plan. Contact Amanda Buchanan, Natural Resources Conservation Service (586-5465 or 488-8803) for help in developing a conservation plan.

• Forest land must follow a forest management plan. In developing a woodland plan, contact the N.C. Division of Forestry at 631-9316 or a certified forester at

• Wildlife habitat lands must be managed under a written Wildlife Habitat Conservation Agreement with the Wildlife Resources Commission. Contact Brad Howard, Private Lands Program Coordinator at 294-2605 or e-mail

For land to be eligible for present-use value assessment, the county tax assessor will determine if the land is being operated under a program of sound management.

To learn more about the PUV program contact Wendy Smith, Jackson County tax assessor at 586-7544 or e-mail

Christy Bredenkamp is horticulture extension agent for Jackson and Swain counties.