Act Now to Avoid Assessment Errors

Assessors are currently updating assessment rolls and may be sending you a notice if your assessment has changed.  Don’t miss this window of opportunity to ensure you’re not paying more property taxes on your woodland than you need to, whether or not you receive a notice of assessment change.  Keeping property taxes low is imperative if we are to be able to grow timber in Wisconsin as a business.

As a woodland owner, it is in your best interest to know how your land is classified and to understand how lands are valued for taxation purposes.  Agricultural lands (corn, beans, hay, etc) are taxed under a use value system.  Agricultural forest and undeveloped land has a separate classification and is taxed at 50% of fair market value (FMV).  Here’s one example to show how tax rates can be dramatically different.

Town of Nelson, Buffalo Co.

Agricultural – Tax/acre =$2.91
Undeveloped – Tax/acre=$19.11
Agricultural Forest – Tax/acre= $35.95
Productive Forest – Tax/acre= $71.73

To see how taxes on these different land uses compare in other towns, use WAFO’s tax app found on our website’s home page

It is not uncommon to discover that a land’s use is often misclassified.  Lands enrolled in an eligible state or federal program are often classified as “undeveloped.”  More correctly, they should be classified as “agricultural” and receive a lower tax rate.  Woodlands on a parcel with “undeveloped” land are taxed at 100% of FMV.  If located on a parcel with “agricultural” land, woodlands are most often taxed at 50% of FMV.

Another common error is to see that lands enrolled in the Managed Forest Law are valued at FMV when they should be valued as agricultural forest if located on parcels with agriculture classification.  Why does this matter?  It doesn’t matter how much your tax payment will be, but it does matter if your land is ever prematurely withdrawn from the MFL.  Withdrawal penalties would be DOUBLE if the land was incorrectly valued.

To learn more about how rural lands are classified, you can contact us at and we’ll email you a copy of the Wisconsin Department of Revenues Agricultural Assessment Guide for Wisconsin Property Owners.

A Little Effort Pays Off in the End
In 2016, WAFO members Steve and Carol Stevenson asked a consultant to review their tax bill and parcels to ensure that they were paying the correct taxes on their property.  What they found was that they had been paying taxes on 25 acres of agricultural land … at the residential classification rate. This error had been costing them $1000 a year more than what they should have been paying, for many years.  A dismayed Mr. Stevenson said “you can’t get that back.”

His advice: Ask a consultant to go over your tax bills periodically. “For me, it was very rewarding.  I could have gone on the rest of my life paying this!”

Get Started Today!
WAFO’s team of experienced volunteers are happy to help review your property tax bill and parcels.  Email WAFO’s Executive Director, Kristie Kasbohm, at to get started.  Please note that WAFO operates solely on contributions from private woodland owners like YOU!  Your contributions are very much appreciated!

Membership in WAFO is FREE.  By simply providing an email address and information on where your woodland is located, you’ll become a member.  Members will receive regular updates on what’s happening at the Capitol and will occasionally be asked to contact their representatives when issues arise.  We will not sell or use contact information for any other purpose.