Qualifying for a Texas Wildlife Exemption
Texas Wildlife Exemptions
This post briefly discusses the basic Texas property tax requirements for the qualification of agricultural land in wildlife management use so property owners can obtain a wildlife management property tax exemption. This is also more commonly referred to as a “wildlife exemption” and it allows a qualifying Texas landowner to have their property valued at the agricultural tax rate without traditional farming or ranching activities taking place on the property. Landowners with a wildlife exemption pay the same property taxes they paid when their property had only a agricultural tax exemption.
A Texas landowner interested in obtaining a wildlife exemption must currently be approved for an agricultural property tax exemption. Next, the landowner must complete form Application for 1-D-1 (Open Space) Agricultural Appraisal, provide the wildlife management information required and attach form Wildlife Management Plan for agricultural tax valuation (PWD-885). If you are not currently ag exempt then it would be helpful to follow the Guidelines for the Appraisal of Agricultural Land in order to begin the process to qualify for an agricultural tax exemption.
Once the property has qualified as wildlife management land, the property owner should perform the activities that benefit the target species of their wildlife management plan. At least three of the following seven wildlife management practices must be used: a) habitat control; b) erosion control; c) predator control; d) providing supplemental water supplies; e) providing supplemental food supplies; f) providing shelters; and g) making census counts to determine population. Complete and more comprehensive information can be found in the Guidelines for Qualification of Agricultural Land in Wildlife Management.
Native wildlife species found on your property should be used in your management plan. For example in Central Texas this can include: white-tailed deer, game birds, owls, bats, songbirds and even butterflies. Not all native wildlife species can be managed on every property. Property size can determine the appropriate types of animals to be managed due to space considerations and habitat requirements for a particular species. Migrating or wintering animals also qualify for the management plan. Exotic and feral species do not qualify.
The benefits of a wildlife exemption are many but most landowners are motivated by cost savings. No longer paying for livestock, feed, fence repairs, vet bills and maintenance & labor to care for the land and animals are just a few examples of savings. Aside from financial savings other benefits include lower liability, decreased work load, and a wildlife managed property looks much more attractive.
If you would like help tackling the process of a wildlife property tax exemption for your property there are companies out there that specialize in this service. They can quickly create a wildlife management plan for your specific property and as required for each county and state laws.
Changing the use of a property can have property tax consequences. Always consult with a tax professional regarding the impact of your change of land use and the possibility of roll back taxes.
***This post is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.***