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A rollback tax is collected when properties change from agricultural to commercial or residential use. They are based on the difference between the tax paid and the tax that would have been paid if an agricultural use exemption had not been granted.

In the United States, the owners of land used for residential or commercial purposes pay more property tax than farmers because it costs local governments more to provide them with services like garbage removal and law enforcement. In contrast, the reduced taxes paid by farmers are based on agricultural exceptions, which means the money they save is a deferred tax. This article will explain how local officials go about collecting deferred taxes when the way a property is used changes.

Roll Back Taxes: What Are They?

Deferred taxes are taxes that could have been collected but were not. When deferred taxes are based on land-use exemptions, they can be collected at a later date if the situation changes and the land no longer qualifies for the exemption. When a piece of property changes from agricultural to commercial or residential use, the difference between the amount of property tax that was collected and the amount that would have been collected if the real estate was assessed based on its new use is known as a rollback tax.

The rules dealing with rollback taxes vary from state to state and county to county, but they are collected for the current tax year and the previous five tax years in most parts of the country. It is also important to bear in mind that property taxes follow the land and not the owner. This means that a person who purchases a piece of agricultural land and then decides to build a factory or house on it will be responsible for rollback taxes for years that they did not even own the property.

Roll-back Taxes & Sliding Scale Option

The way rollback taxes are collected can be different in counties that have put a sliding-scale ordinance into place. In these municipalities, people who buy farms sign agreements that state their property will remain agricultural for a set number of years. If they change their minds and convert the property to residential or commercial use, they are responsible for repaying deferred taxes from the date they signed the agreement. This amount of time can be a lot longer than the usual six-year period for rollback taxes.

Breaking these agreements can also lead to higher property taxes in the future. For example, property owners who sign land-use contracts and then break them in some parts of Virginia are subject to a supplemental assessment and pay future taxes based on the highest rate possible.

Breaking these agreements can also lead to higher property taxes in the future. In some parts of, property owners who sign land-use agreements and then break them are subject to a supplemental assessment and pay future taxes based on the highest rate possible. 

Rollback Tax Calculator

When people do not report all of their income or claim deductions that they are not entitled to, the Internal Revenue Service collects interest and fees in addition to unpaid taxes. Landowners who pay rollback taxes are also expected to pay interest on deferred taxes to make up for the difference between the value of the money now and what it would have been worth if it had been collected when the land-use exemption was granted.

Interest rates are currently very low to stimulate the economy and encourage investment, but local officials often charge as much as 10% interest on rollback taxes. For instance, in Pennsylvania, interest is charged at a rate of 6% each year, and rollback taxes are collected for seven years. This means that landowners would face a $15,520 tax bill if changing the way their land is used increases their property taxes by $1,000 per year

Examples of Rollback Taxes

Rollback taxes are collected based on what officials or the landowner says a piece of property is being used for and not on what it is actually being used for. This means they may have to be paid even if no construction has taken place, crops are still growing, or animals are still grazing. For example, this could happen if the owner requests a zoning change to convert the property from agricultural to residential use or subdivides a piece of agricultural land for residential development. In these situations, rollback taxes will be due from the date the change is made and not when construction starts.

Factories, warehouses and other commercial buildings are generally not constructed in areas devoted to farming, which means rollback taxes are usually paid when a home is built on land previously used for agriculture. In many parts of the country, simply parking a trailer in a field will lead to a rollback tax bill.

In counties with sliding-scale ordinances in place, people who buy agricultural property only receive property tax exemptions if they sign agreements that state the way the land is used will not change. If they do not submit these agreements within a set period of time, tax assessors may convert the land from agricultural to commercial use and apply rollback taxes.

Professional Help with Tax Issues

Rollback taxes can be a nasty surprise for somebody who buys a piece of land to build their dream home or allows a neighbor to leave a trailer on their property. The experienced financial professionals at The Tax Crisis Institute have been helping Nevada and California residents with federal, state and property tax issues since 1983, and they are committed to making sure that their clients do not pay the government any more than they have to. If you need help with a tax matter, you can fill out our online form or call one of our offices. We have locations in Orange County, Bakersfield, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.