TAXATION OF FOREST CROPLANDS
Subch. I of ch. 77 Cross-reference
See also ch. NR 46
, Wis. adm. code.
It is the intent of this subchapter to encourage a policy of protecting from destructive or premature cutting the forest growth in this state, and of reproducing and growing for the future adequate crops through sound forestry practices of forest products on lands not more useful for other purposes, so that such lands shall continue to furnish recurring forest crops for commercial use with public hunting and fishing as extra public benefits, all in a manner which shall not hamper the towns in which such lands lie from receiving their just tax revenue from such lands.
History: 1971 c. 215
; 1985 a. 332
s. 251 (2)
See also ch. NR
302.03, Wis. adm. code.
Requests by individual legislators and town or county boards for delay in issuing orders pursuant to ch. 77, present no basis for withholding actions by the department. 61 Atty. Gen. 134.
Lands in villages included. Sections 77.01
shall apply to villages for the same purposes as specified in s. 77.01
and where in such sections the words "town" or "towns" appear they shall be substituted, for the purposes of this section, by the words "village" or "villages," respectively.
History: 1981 c. 390
Forest croplands. 77.02(1)(1)
The owner of an entire quarter quarter section, fractional lot or government lot as determined by U.S. government survey plat, excluding public roads and railroad rights-of-way that may have been sold, may file with the department of natural resources a petition stating that the owner believes the lands therein described are more useful for growing timber and other forest crops than for any other purpose, that the owner intends to practice forestry thereon, that all persons holding encumbrances thereon have joined in the petition and requesting that such lands be approved as "Forest Croplands" under this subchapter. Whenever any such land is encumbered by a mortgage or other indenture securing any issue of bonds or notes, the trustee named in such mortgage or indenture or any amendment thereto may join in such petition, and such action shall for the purpose of this section be deemed the action of all holders of such bonds or notes. Land for which a petition is submitted under sub. (4)
is exempt from the size requirements specified under this subsection.
(2) Notice of hearing, adjournment.
Upon receipt of such petition the department of natural resources shall investigate the same and shall file a listing of descriptions with the town chairperson. For petitions received prior to May 1, the department shall within the same calendar year cause a notice that such petition has been filed to be published as a class 3 notice, under ch. 985
, in the newspaper having the largest general circulation in the county in which the lands are located, and notice by registered mail shall be given to the town clerk of any town in which the lands are located. Such notice shall contain the name of the petitioner, a description of the lands and a statement that any resident of or taxpayer in the town may within 15 days from the date of publication of the notice file a request with the department that it conduct a public hearing on the petition. Upon receipt of such a request the department shall conduct a public hearing on the petition. The department may conduct a public hearing on any petition without a request, if it deems it advisable to do so. Notice of the time and place of such hearing and a description, in specific or general terms, as the department deems advisable, of the property requested to be approved as "Forest Croplands" shall be given to persons making the request, the owner of such land and to the assessor of towns in which it is situated, by mail, at least one week before the day of hearing. The notice also shall be published as a class 1 notice, under ch. 985
, in a newspaper having general circulation in the county in which such land is located, at least one week before the day of the hearing. Such hearing may be adjourned and no notice of the time and place of such adjourned hearing need be given, excepting the announcement thereof by the presiding officer at the hearing at which the adjournment is had.
After receiving all the evidence offered at any hearing held on the petition and after making such independent investigation as it sees fit the department shall make its findings of fact and make and enter an order accordingly. If it finds that the facts give reasonable assurance that a stand of merchantable timber will be developed on such descriptions within a reasonable time, and that such descriptions are then held permanently for the growing of timber under sound forestry practices, rather than for agricultural, mineral, shoreland development of navigable waters, recreational, residential or other purposes, and that all persons holding encumbrances against such descriptions have in writing agreed to the petition, the order entered shall grant the request of the petitioner on condition that all unpaid taxes against said descriptions be paid within 30 days thereafter; otherwise the department of natural resources shall deny the request of the petitioner.
If the request of a petitioner is granted under par. (a)
or sub. (4)
, a copy of such order shall be filed with the department of revenue, the supervisor of equalization and the clerk of each town, and the order shall be recorded with the register of deeds of each county, in which any of the lands affected by the order are located. The register of deeds shall record the entry, transfer or withdrawal of all forest croplands in a suitable manner on the county records. The register of deeds may collect recording fees under s. 59.43 (2)
from the owner.
Except as provided in sub. (4) (b)
, any order of the department relating to the entry of forest croplands issued on or before November 20 of any year shall take effect on January 1 of the following calendar year, but all orders issued after November 20 shall take effect on January 1 of the calendar year following the calendar year in which orders issued on or before November 20 would have been effective.
(4) Exemption for certain smaller parcels. 77.02(4)(a)(a)
A landowner of a parcel that is less than a quarter quarter section in size may petition the department of natural resources to allow the land to be entered as forest croplands under this section. The department shall grant the petition and issue an order entering the land as forest croplands if all of the following apply:
The landowner of the parcel is a nonprofit archery club.
The parcel of land was part of a quarter quarter section or lot that was entered as forest croplands before January 1, 1968.
The parcel of land was divided from the section or lot and was sold to the landowner before January 1, 2009.
An order issued under par. (a)
shall take effect on the date of its issuance. Notwithstanding the 25-year or 50-year requirement under s. 77.03
, the date for the ending of a order entered under par. (a)
shall be the same date as the date for the ending of the order that applies to the section or lot from which the parcel was divided.
The taxes and penalties under s. 77.10
do not apply to a parcel affected by an order of withdrawal if an order of entry is subsequently issued for the parcel under par. (a)
. If an order of withdrawal is issued for such a parcel after the issuance of the order for entry under par. (a)
, the landowner shall be liable for all withdrawal taxes and penalties under s. 77.10
that would have been levied on the parcel if the parcel had continuously been subject to the original order of entry issued for the entire quarter quarter section or lot.
In order to be eligible for entry under the forest crop law the lands must be continuous or contiguous and 40 or more acres in size. 58 Atty. Gen. 8.
Taxation of forest croplands.
After the filing and recording of the order with the officers under s. 77.02 (3)
the lands described therein shall be "Forest Croplands", on which taxes shall thereafter be payable only as provided under this subchapter. The enactment of ss. 77.01
, petition by the owner and the making of the order under s. 77.02 (3)
or (4) (a)
shall constitute a contract between the state and the owner, running with the lands, for a period of 25 or 50 years at the election of the applicant at the time the petition is filed, unless withdrawn under s. 77.10
, with privilege of renewal by mutual agreement between the owner and the state, whereby the state as an inducement to owners and prospective purchasers of forest croplands to come under ss. 77.01
agrees that, unless withdrawn under s. 77.10
, no change in or repeal of ss. 77.01
shall apply to any land then accepted as forest croplands, except as the department of natural resources and the owner may expressly agree in writing and except as provided in s. 77.17
. If at the end of the contract period the land is not designated as managed forest land under subch. VI
, the merchantable timber on the land shall be estimated by an estimator jointly agreed upon by the department of natural resources and the owner, and if the department and the owner fail to agree on an estimator, the judge of the circuit court of the district in which the lands lie shall appoint a qualified forester, whose estimate shall be final, and the cost thereof shall be borne jointly by the department of natural resources and the owner; and the 10% severance tax paid on the stumpage thereon in the same manner as if the stumpage had been cut. The owners by such contract consent that the public may hunt and fish on the lands, subject to such rules as the department of natural resources prescribes regulating hunting and fishing.
This section creates a right of access across an owner's non-enrolled lands to reach the owner's landlocked enrolled lands for purposes of hunting and fishing. 71 Atty. Gen. 163
The clerk on making up the tax roll shall enter as to each forest cropland description in a special column or some other appropriate place in such tax roll headed by the words "Forest Croplands" or the initials "F.C.L.", which shall be a sufficient designation that such description is subject to this subchapter. Such land shall thereafter be assessed and be subject to review under ch. 70
, and such assessment may be used by the department of revenue in the determination of the tax upon withdrawal of such lands as forest croplands as provided in s. 77.10
for entries prior to 1972 or for any entry under s. 77.02 (4) (a)
. The tax upon withdrawal of descriptions entered as forest croplands after December 31, 1971, may be determined by the department of revenue by multiplying the last assessed value of the land prior to the time of the entry by an annual ratio computed for the state under sub. (2)
to establish the annual assessed value of the description. No tax shall be levied on forest croplands except the specific annual taxes as provided, except that any building located on forest cropland shall be assessed as personal property, subject to all laws and regulations for the assessment and taxation of general property.
(2) Tax per acre; payment; penalty.
The "acreage share" shall be computed at the rate of 10 cents per acre on all lands entered prior to 1972 or entered under s. 77.02 (4) (a)
. On all lands entered after December 31, 1971, the "acreage share" shall be computed every 10 years to the nearest cent by the department of revenue at the rate of 20 cents per acre multiplied by a ratio using the equalized value of the combined residential, commercial, manufacturing, agricultural, undeveloped, agricultural forest, and productive forest land classes under s. 70.32 (2)
within the state in 1972 as the denominator, and using equalized value for these combined land classes in 1982 and every 10th year thereafter as the numerator. All owners shall pay to the taxation district treasurer the acreage share on each description on or before January 31. If the acreage share is not paid when due to the taxation district treasurer it shall be subject to interest and penalty as provided under ss. 74.11 (11)
, 74.12 (10)
. These lands shall be returned as delinquent and a tax certificate under subch. VII of ch. 74
shall be issued on them. After 2 years from the date of the issuance of a tax certificate, the county clerk shall promptly take a tax deed under ch. 75
. On taking such deed the county clerk shall certify that fact and specify the descriptions to the department of natural resources.
(3) Apportionment of forest cropland income.
Out of all moneys received by any town from any source on account of forest croplands in such town, the town treasurer shall on or before November 15 pay 20% to the county treasurer and retain the remainder.
The department of natural resources shall pay before June 30 annually to the town treasurer, from the appropriation under s. 20.370 (5) (bv)
, 20 cents for each acre of land in the town that is described as forest croplands under this subchapter.
No person shall cut any merchantable wood products on any forest croplands where the forest crop taxes are delinquent nor until 30 days after the owner has filed with the department of natural resources a notice of intention to cut, specifying by descriptions and the estimated amount of wood products to be removed and the proportion of present volume to be left as growing stock in the area to be cut. The department of natural resources may require a bond executed by some surety company licensed in this state or other surety for such amount as may reasonably be required for the payment to the department of natural resources of the severance tax hereinafter provided. Merchantable wood products include all wood products except wood used for fuel by the owner.
The department of natural resources, after examination of the lands specified in the notice of intention to cut, may prescribe the amount of forest products to be removed, except as provided under subd. 2.
If the notice of intention to cut was provided to the department of natural resources by a cooperating forester authorized under s. 28.05
to assist the state in the harvesting and sale of timber, or by a forester accredited by the Society of American Foresters, Association of Consulting Foresters, or Wisconsin Consulting Foresters, the department may not prescribe the amount of forest products to be removed.
Cutting in excess of the amount prescribed by the department of natural resources, or cutting that the department finds is inconsistent with sound forestry practices, shall render the owner liable to double the severance tax prescribed in s. 77.06 (5)
and subject to cancellation under s. 77.10
(2) Appraisal of timber, zones.
Each year the department of natural resources, at the time and place it shall fix and after such public notice as it deems reasonable, shall hold a public hearing. After the hearing the department shall make and file, open to public inspection, a determination of the reasonable stumpage values of the wood products usually grown in the several towns in which any forest croplands lie. A public hearing under this section shall be held prior to August 1 of each year and the determination of stumpage values made by the department of natural resources shall take effect on November 1 of that year. If the department of natural resources finds there is a material variance in the stumpage values in the different localities, it may fix separate zones and determine the values for each zone.
As to any locality or zone in which the department of natural resources deems there has been no material variance from the preceding year in stumpage values, it may omit to make any new valuation in any year, in which event the last preceding valuation shall continue in force until changed in a succeeding year.
(4) Cutting reported.
Within 30 days after completion of cutting on any land description, but not more than one year after filing of the notice of intention to cut, the owner shall transmit to the department of natural resources on forms provided by the department a written statement of the products so cut, specifying the variety of wood, kind of product, and quantity of each variety and kind as shown by the scale or measurement thereof made on the ground as cut, skidded, loaded, delivered, or by tree scale certified by a qualified forester when stumpage is sold by tree measurement. The department of natural resources may accept such reports as sufficient evidence of the facts, or may either with or without hearing and notice of time and place thereof to such owner, investigate and determine the fact of the quantity of each variety and kind of product so cut during said periods preceding such reports.
(5) Tax levy on right to cut timber.
The department of natural resources shall assess and levy against the owner a severance tax on the right to cut and remove wood products covered by reports under this section, at the rate of 10% of the value of the wood products based upon the stumpage value established under s. 77.91 (1)
. Upon making the assessment, the department of natural resources shall mail a duplicate of the certificate by registered mail to the owner who made the report of cutting at the owner's last-known post-office address. The tax assessed is due and payable to the department of natural resources on the last day of the next month following the date the certificate is mailed to the owner. The proceeds of the tax shall be paid into the forestry account of the conservation fund for distribution under s. 77.07 (3)
Severance tax. 77.07(1)(1)
Liability for taxes, liens.
The owner of the land shall be personally liable for any severance tax because of any wood products cut therefrom, which tax shall also be a lien on such wood products wherever situated and in whatever form, or if mingled with other products, then on the common mass, until paid, while in the possession of such owner, or of any other person than a purchaser for value without notice in the usual course of business.
(2) Penalty, collections.
If any severance tax remain unpaid for 30 days after it becomes due, there shall then be added a penalty of 10 percent, and such tax and penalty shall thereafter draw interest at the rate of one percent per month until paid. At the expiration of said 30 days the department of natural resources shall report to the attorney general any unpaid severance tax, adding said penalty, and the attorney general shall thereupon proceed to collect the same with penalty and interest by suit against the owner and by attachment or other legal means to enforce the lien and by action on the bond mentioned in s. 77.06 (1) (a)
, or by any or all such means.
(3) Distribution of severance tax.
All severance taxes collected under this subchapter shall be distributed as follows: The state shall retain an amount equal to the total acreage payments on the lands to which the severance taxes relate, made by the state under s. 77.05
, and all penalties imposed under sub. (2)
and s. 77.06 (1)
, and the balance shall be paid to the town treasurer to be apportioned as provided in s. 77.04 (3)
Supplemental severance tax.
At any time within one year after any cutting should have been reported, the department of natural resources after due notice to the owner and opportunity to be heard, and on evidence duly made a matter of record, may determine whether the quantity of wood products cut from any such land, did in fact substantially exceed the amount on which the severance tax theretofore levied was based, and if so shall assess a supplemental severance tax which, in all respects, shall have the same force and effect as the former severance tax, except only it shall not be a lien on any property the title of which has passed to a purchaser for value without notice.
False reports, penalties. 77.09(1)
Any person who fails to report or shall intentionally make any false statement or report to the department of natural resources required by s. 77.06
shall forfeit not more than $1,000. An action under this section shall not be a bar to a cancellation of entry and order of withdrawal under s. 77.10
History: 1989 a. 79
Withdrawal of forest croplands. 77.10(1)
Investigations, cancellations, conveyances. 77.10(1)(a)(a)
The department of natural resources shall on the application of the department of revenue or the owner of any forest croplands or the town board of the town in which said lands lie and may on its own motion at any time cause an investigation to be made and hearing to be had as to whether any forest croplands shall continue under this subchapter. If on such hearing after due notice to and opportunity to be heard by the department of revenue, the town and the owner, the department of natural resources finds that any such lands are not meeting the requirements set forth in s. 77.02
or that the owner has made use of the land for anything other than forestry or has failed to practice sound forestry on the land, the department of natural resources shall cancel the entry of such description and issue an order of withdrawal, and the owner shall be liable for the tax and penalty under sub. (2)
. Copies of the order of withdrawal specifying the description shall be filed by the department of natural resources with all officers designated to receive copies of the order of entry and withdrawal and this subchapter shall not thereafter apply to the lands withdrawn, except s. 77.07
so far as it may be needed to collect any previously levied severance or supplemental severance tax. If the owner shall not repay the amounts on or before the last day of February next succeeding the return of such lands to the general property tax roll as provided in sub. (4)
, the department of natural resources shall certify to the county treasurer the descriptions and the amounts due, and the county treasurer shall sell such lands as delinquent as described in s. 77.04 (2)
. Whenever any county clerk has certified to the taking of tax deed under s. 77.04 (2)
the department of natural resources shall issue an order of withdrawal as to the lands covered in such tax deed. Such order may also be issued when examination of tax records reveals prolonged delinquency and noncompliance with the requirements of s. 77.04 (2)
Whenever any owner of forest croplands conveys such land the owner shall, within 10 days of the date of the deed, file with the department of natural resources on forms prepared by the department a transfer of ownership signed by the owner and an acceptance of transfer signed by the grantee certifying that the grantee intends to continue the practice of forestry on such land. The department of natural resources shall immediately issue a notice of transfer to all officers designated to receive copies of orders of entry and withdrawal. Whenever a purchaser of forest croplands declines to certify his or her intention to continue the practice of forestry thereon, such action shall constitute cause for cancellation of entry under par. (a)
(2) Election to withdraw lands. 77.10(2)(a)1.1.
Any owner of forest croplands may elect to withdraw all or any of such lands from under this subchapter, by filing with the department of natural resources a declaration withdrawing from this subchapter any description owned by such person which he or she specified, and by payment by such owner to the department of natural resources within 60 days the amount of tax due from the date of entry or the most recent date of renewal, whichever is later, as determined by the department of revenue under s. 77.04 (1)
with simple interest thereon at 12% per year, less any severance tax and supplemental severance tax or acreage share paid thereon, with interest computed according to the rule of partial payments at the rate of 12% per year.
The amount of the tax shall be determined by the department of revenue and furnished to the department of natural resources, which shall determine the exact amount of payment. When the tax rate or assessed value ratio of the current year has not been determined the rate of the preceding tax year may be used. On receiving such payment the department of natural resources shall issue an order of withdrawal and file copies thereof with the department of revenue, the supervisor of equalization and the clerk of the town, and shall record the order with the register of deeds of the county, in which the land lies. The land shall then cease to be forest croplands.
Upon receipt of any taxes under this section by the state, the department of natural resources shall first deduct all moneys paid by the state on account of the lands under s. 77.05
with interest on the moneys computed according to the rule of partial payments at the rate of interest paid under par. (a)
by the person withdrawing such lands. The department shall within 20 days remit the balance to the town treasurer who shall pay 20% to the county treasurer and retain the remainder.
Land subject to a contract under s. 77.03
that is withdrawn and the ownership of which is transferred to the federal government, the state or a local governmental unit, as defined in s. 66.0131 (1) (a)
, is not subject to the tax payment calculated under par. (a)
if the land will be used for a public road, railroad, utility right-of-way, park, recreational trail, wildlife or fish habitat area or a public forest.
(4) Taxation after withdrawal.
When any description ceases to be a part of the forest croplands, by virtue of any order of withdrawal issued by the department of natural resources, taxes thereafter levied thereon shall be payable and collectible as if such description had never been under this subchapter.
The department may not issue an order of withdrawal under s. 77.10 (1)
based on the cutting of timber or other forest crops or other activities on forest cropland if all of the following requirements are met:
The cutting or activity is necessary to engage in bulk sampling, as defined in s. 295.41 (7)
The area that will be affected by the cutting or the activity does not exceed 5 acres.
A bulk sampling plan has been filed with the department under s. 295.45
and all approvals that are required for bulk sampling have been issued by the department.
The revegetation plan that is part of the bulk sampling plan described under par. (c)
includes forestry practices that will ensure that the timber, forest crops, and other vegetation that will be cut or otherwise affected will be restored to the greatest extent possible.
The requirement under sub. (1) (d)
does not apply to forest cropland that is within a mining site described in a preapplication notification under s. 295.465
or in an application for a ferrous mining permit under s. 295.58
History: 2013 a. 1
Accounts of department of natural resources.
The department of natural resources shall keep a set of forest croplands books in which shall always appear as to each description in each town containing any forest croplands, the amount of taxes paid by the state to the town and received by the state from the owner. All tax payments shall be paid out of and receipts credited to the forestry account of the conservation fund.
History: 1977 c. 29
Review of findings, venue.
Any finding of fact made under this subchapter after due notice and hearing is final unless it is set aside or modified by the circuit court for either Dane County or the county in which the land lies. Any person may bring an action for that purpose in either of those courts within 30 days after the making of the finding sought to be reviewed.
History: 1985 a. 332
s. 251 (2)
; 1997 a. 253
The signature of an official or an employee of the department of natural resources may be stamped, printed, or otherwise reproduced on an order under ss. 77.01
after the official or employee adopts the stamped, printed, or otherwise reproduced signature as his or her facsimile signature.
The signature or the facsimile signature under sub. (1)
of an official or an employee of the department of natural resources meets the requirement under s. 706.05 (2) (a)
History: 2009 a. 365
Termination of forest croplands program. 77.13(1)(1)
On and after July 20, 1985, no person may petition the department of natural resources requesting it to approve any land as forest croplands under this subchapter.