Supervisor Marcia Armstrong and environmental activist Felice
Pace exchange opinions on forest taxation act.
Start at the bottom of the page....
Both TPZ and the Williamson Act
are laws passed by the CA state legislature to encourage open
space and conservation of prime ag land and timberlands,
rather than residential or other development. They are, in
effect, envioronmental laws.
(1) When the owner enters into the 10 year revolving
contract, TPZ land is valued on the basis of its limited use
for timber production. Only a select few other compatible uses
are allowed. When the actual timber is harvested, deferred
timber yield tax is levied by the Bd. of Equalization.
Taxation Reform Act
Forest Taxation Reform Act (Chapter 176, Statutes of 1976)
imposed a timber yield tax and a timber reserve fund tax on
every timber owner of felled or downed timber in this state.
The timber reserve fund tax was rescinded on January 1, 1983.
This act changed the existing system of taxing both timber and
land on which timber is growing. Beginning with the 1977-78
fiscal year, land which is primarily devoted to growing and
harvesting timber is zoned for a minimum 10-year period as
timberland production zone (TPZ) and valued for property tax
purposes on the basis of its use for timber production.
Timberland value schedules were set by the State Board of
Equalization at three-year intervals through fiscal year
1984-85, and thereafter modified annually according to a
revised formula. Timber is not subject to annual ad valorem
taxation but is taxed at the time of its harvest, based
upon harvest value schedules for the location of harvest.
Adjustments to the timber tax rate must be made to keep it
consistent with the rate used for ad valorem taxation.
From 1982 to 2000, the timber yield tax rate has been 2.9
percent. “Timber” means trees of any species including
Christmas trees but does not mean nursery stock. Taxable
operations include harvesting for fuel, wood, poles, pilings,
and split products, as well as for logs.
(2) Williamson Act, The
farmer enters into the 10 year revolving contract to keep the
land in ag use, he/she is given a reduction in taxes. This
reduces the taxes to the County, so the state sends Siskiyou
County approx. $769,000 a year to make up for the loss.
from the desk of Felice Pace
August 6, 2008
To the Editor:
In a recent published commentary (
) Siskiyou County Supervisor Marcia Armstrong made this
"The federal government pays PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes).
This is a formula based on the limited value of federal lands in
the early 1900s when the National Forests were created. As an
example, in fiscal year 2005 the federal payment to the county
was $0.37 per acre. If these lands were taxed they would return
about $1.48 per acre to the county."
I was curious about the $1.48 per acre figure so I contacted
both the Siskiyou County Tax Collector and the Siskiyou County
Assessor. What I learned is that since Proposition 13 bare land
is taxed at 1% of assessed valuation. So, if a piece of forest
land were assessed at $250 per acre, the tax rate would be $2.50
per acre. This would be split between the county, school
districts and the state. So, the county might get $1.48 per
But this is not the whole story. If national forest lands in
Siskiyou County were privatized they would likely be enrolled
with the county as Timber Production Zone (TPZ) or under the
Williamson Act. Either way the taxes would be much less. Most
private forest land in Siskiyou County enrolled in TPZ currently
pays $.074 per acre in taxes – or about 5% what the national
forest lands yield in PILT per acre. The highest TPZ rate is
$.137 per acre or about 9% of what national forest land yields
If the federal forest land in Siskiyou County was privatized and
enrolled under the Williamson Act it would likely yield as much
as $.30 per acre in property taxes (the exact amount depends on
the assessed value). This is still less than the current PILT
If these figures are correct – and they were supplied by the
Siskiyou County Assessor – it would be in the interest of the
county and local school districts from a tax perspective if
Siskiyou County's vast private timber lands were converted into
Why is it that Marcia Armstrong complains about the public
forest PILT but not about the low amount of taxes paid by
industrial timberland owners? And why is it that media outlets
in Siskiyou County do not ask the sort of questions I have asked
about Marcia's wild assertions?
Klamath, CA 95548
Congressional representation on (Klamath
dam) issues, July 11, 2008,
Ridin Point, by Siskiyou County
Supervisor Marcia Armstrong