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Taxing Family Forest Owners: Implications of Federal and State Policies in the United States

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Taxes are a prominent policy tool and one of a number of factors that have the potential to influence the decisions of the millions of family forest owners across the United States. After a literature review, tax policies most relevant to family forest owners were catalogued, preferential property tax program administrators were surveyed, focus groups with family forest owners and forestry/conservation professionals were held, and results were synthesized with the aid of experts. The results suggest that tax policies, in and of themselves, are not causing forest owners to take unplanned actions such as prematurely selling their land or harvesting trees. However, in combination with other factors, tax policies, especially property tax policies, can influence ownership and forest management decisions. Preferential forest property tax policies exist across the United States, but a general lack of awareness, confusion, and misinformation about these programs and their often complicated and/or restrictive requirements are preventing them from reaching their full potential.

Keywords: United States; estate tax; family forest owners; forest policy; forest taxation; income tax; inheritance tax; nonindustrial private forest owners; property tax

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2012

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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