Qualified Forest Program: Application Deadline for 2018 Enrollment is September 1, 2017

April 18, 2017

Lansing, MIApril 18, 2017 – Since June 2013, the Qualified Forest Program (QFP) in the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has enrolled more than 370,000 acres of privately-held forestland in the state of Michigan. Excitement about the program continues to grow with new options for enrollment available to landowners based on recent legislative changes.

In order to be eligible for enrollment in the QFP, landowners must have a current forest management plan, written by a forester registered with MDARD.  To qualify for the program, forested parcels have to be at least 20 acres, but not larger than 640 acres in size, per taxing unit (typically a township). Parcels 20-39.9 acres have to be at least 80 percent stocked with forest capable of producing forestry products, while parcels 40-640 acres in size must be at least 50 percent stocked with the same capabilities as previously mentioned. In the event that a landowner cannot meet the stocking requirements, Public Act 107 of 2015 provides another option for landowners to enroll in the QFP. The legislation allows for the combination of agricultural use property with productive forest property, allowing mixed-use landowners to enroll their property under the Qualified Forest designation.  Similar to the regular QFP program, landowners of mixed-use parcels need to have a forest management plan in place prior to their enrollment in the QFP.

The QFP now provides three separate tax benefits for landowners. With a Qualified Forest School Tax Affidavit, enrolled land becomes exempt from a maximum of 18 mills of school operating taxes on non-homestead property. The second benefit is through the Qualified Forest Taxable Value Affidavit, which prevents the uncapping of a parcel’s taxable value when a QFP-enrolled parcel changes ownership. This can provide significant tax savings to the new landowner, provided they remain enrolled in the QFP. Recent legislation now provides a third benefit, through the Transitional Qualified Forest (TQF) option. The TQF option allows for landowners currently enrolled in the MDNR’s Commercial Forest program to transfer their property into the QFP under waiver of penalty, and provides for an incremental increase in tax liability for the following five years. Ownership and acreage restrictions do apply, and the TQF option is only in place until September 1, 2021.

As part of their continued enrollment in the QFP, landowners pay a two-mill equivalent fee annually. This fee is deposited into the Private Forestland Enhancement Fund, which supports opportunities for future timber supplies, forestry-related employment opportunities, and the conservation, maintenance, and enhancement of a sustainable private timber resource.

Applications must be submitted by September 1, 2017, to be considered for the tax exemption in the 2018 tax year. If you have any questions, please contact the QFP staff at 517-284-5630 or mdard-qfp@michigan.gov.

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