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Get tax break for sustainable management of forestland

Qualified forest program helps Michiganders cut property taxes; applications due Sept. 3
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LANSING – The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (MDARD) Qualified Forest Program (QFP) announced today that applications to receive the tax exemption for the 2025 tax year are due by Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2024.

MDARD’s Qualified Forest Program is designed to encourage Michigan’s landowners to actively manage their privately-owned forests for commercial harvest, wildlife habitat enhancement, and improvement of other forest resources.

The program provides two potential tax benefits for enrolled landowners in exchange for sustainably managing their forests.

"Here in Michigan, we're focused on protecting our natural resources for future generations. Michigan's private forestlands are a critical part of those resources, which is why MDARD has the Qualified Forest Program, which encourages sustainable practices with landowners in Michigan," said director Tim Boring.

"This program provides two possible tax benefits for landowners in exchange for implementing sustainable practices. Protecting our resources is good for businesses, and in Michigan, combating climate change is how we build a strong future for all."

“Michigan’s Qualified Forest Program ensures the viability of Michigan’s forest products industry and its good paying jobs now and into the future while also protecting drinking water, wildfire and sequestering carbon. It is a good deal for landowners and for Michigan,” said Senator Shink (D-Northfield Twp).  

The two possible benefits which helps save landowners on property taxes are:

  • School Tax Affidavit – Authorizes an exemption from the local school operation millage up to 18 mills of school operating taxes a year. The exemption only applies to land value.
  • Taxable Value Affidavit – Keeps the previous owner’s property taxable value from uncapping on enrolled land after a transfer of ownership.

Requirements to enroll in QFP include parcels of land that are 20 acres or larger, a forest management plan written by a qualified forester, and enrolled landowners must pay an annual fee; public access is not required.  Buildings and structures are allowed but are not eligible for tax exemption.

For parcels of land being enrolled that are less than 40 acres, no less than 80 percent must be stocked with productive forest. For parcels 40 acres or more, at least 50 percent must be stocked with productive forest. A productive forest is a forest capable of producing forest products at a rate of 20 cubic feet per acre per year.

To apply, landowners are required to submit a QFP Application Form, a QFP Stand Summary and Harvest Schedule, a copy of the most recent deed and/or land contract, a copy of the tax bill(s), a $50 application fee, and a forest management plan.

For more information and to get started with the Qualified Forest Program, visit our website or reach out to your local conservation district to connect with a qualified forester.