Present Use Value Program – a Benefit for Qualified Farm and Forest Land Owners

— Written By and last updated by Kerri Rayburn

Effective in 1974, The North Carolina General Assembly enacted the Present Use Value (PUV) Program, which allows reduced tax assessments for individuals owning property used for agriculture, horticulture or forestry. This program is voluntary and was created to keep the family farm in the family and allow farmers to continue farming while property values rise from urban growth. barnes2lgProperty that qualifies and is accepted into this program is taxed at its “present use value” rather than its market value. The difference between the market value and the present use value is “deferred”. In layman’s terms the property is valued at a lower rate, and therefore the owner’s land is taxed at a lower rate. If for some reason the land becomes disqualified from the PUV program, the deferred taxes for the current year and the previous three years plus interest becomes due.

Additional Qualification Opportunities

In recent years, conservation easements (2002), “working waterfront” (2007), and land managed for wildlife habitat (2008) under a plan approved by the Wildlife Resources Commission became qualified for present use value assessment.

Basic Requirements

  • Begin the process by contacting your county tax assessor to see if you qualify.
  • Minimum acreage of actual production land:
    • 5 acres for horticulture use
    • 10 acres for agricultural use
    • 20 acres for forest use
    • 20 contiguous acres up to 100 acres for wildlife habitat
  • Production in horticulture (Christmas trees) must follow a sound management plan. Contact Amanda Buchanan, Natural Resources Conservation Service (828 586 5465 or 828 488 8803) for help in developing a Conservation Plan.
  • Forest land must follow a forest management plan. In developing a Woodland Plan, contact the NC Forest Service (828 586 4007) or a certified forester.
  • Agricultural and horticultural land must have at least one qualifying tract that has produced an average gross income of at least $1,000 for the three years preceding the application year.
  • Wildlife habitat lands must be managed under a written Wildlife Habitat Conservation Agreement with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. Contact Stephen Thomas, WRC Technical Assistant Biologist at 828 803 5230.

For land to be eligible for present-use value assessment, the County Tax Assessor will determine if the land is being operated under a program of sound management. To learn more about the PUV program contact Wendy Smith, Jackson County Tax at 828 586 7544 or e-mail

Deadline dates include:

  • Applications may be submitted from January 1st – 31st
  • Plans (timber, wildlife or conservation) are due by December 31st.

Online Sources:

NCDA & CS Present Use Value

Click agree to the disclaimer and then type PUV in the search engine.

The NC Department of Revenue Present Use Program Guide

NC Wildlife Resource Commission’s Wildlife Conservation Land Program (WCLP)