SENATE BILL 394
56th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - first session, 2023
Roberto "Bobby" J. Gonzales
RELATING TO PROPERTY TAX; CREATING A SPECIAL METHOD OF VALUATION FOR CONSERVED UNIMPROVED LAND; MAKING AN APPROPRIATION.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:
SECTION 1. A new section of the Property Tax Code is enacted to read:
"[NEW MATERIAL] SPECIAL METHOD OF VALUATION--CONSERVATION OF UNIMPROVED LAND.--
A. The value of unimproved land used primarily to conserve the unimproved land pursuant to a qualified management plan shall be valued at twenty-five percent of the taxable value. Eligibility for the method of valuation provided by this section is limited to unimproved land that had been valued pursuant to Section 7-36-20 NMSA 1978 in the immediately preceding five property tax years but is no longer eligible to be valued pursuant to that section and is unimproved land that is:
(1) greater than ten acres but no more than one hundred sixty acres; or
(2) ten acres or less with a water right for agricultural purposes appurtenant to the land and permitted by the office of the state engineer.
B. Improvements on land, other than those specified in Subsection C of Section 7-36-15 NMSA 1978 or for purposes other than for agricultural or conservation management purposes, create a presumption that the land is not used primarily to conserve the unimproved land. Land used for a residential or commercial purpose is not eligible for valuation pursuant to this section.
C. The department shall, in consultation with the energy, minerals and natural resources department and the New Mexico department of agriculture, promulgate rules for determining whether land is used primarily to conserve the unimproved land. The rules shall:
(1) require a qualified management plan approved by a qualified agency to ensure that management practices are appropriate to conserve and maintain the unimproved land;
(2) require that the qualified management plan shall, at a minimum, be designed to maintain or increase the productivity of the land, rangeland, watershed and forest health, wildlife habitat or conservation of soil and water. This includes implementation of accepted best management practices designed to maintain and improve soil, forest and rangeland health, vegetative cover, riparian buffers, stream health and wetlands; reduce soil and wind erosion; control noxious weeds; reduce hazardous fuels and risk of flooding; maintain and improve wildlife habitat; conserve surface and ground water and water quality; and maintain acequia infrastructure;
(3) require that the landowner submit evidence of compliance with the qualified management plan, in the form of a standardized report signed by a qualified agency, in the third year and the sixth year following initial enrollment to be eligible for renewed application of the special method of valuation provided by this section; and
(4) limit eligibility for enrollment to no more than one hundred sixty acres per landowner per county.
D. All improvements on land, other than those specified in Subsection C of Section 7-36-15 NMSA 1978, shall be valued separately for property taxation purposes, and the value of the improvements shall be added to the value of the land determined pursuant to this section.
E. The special method of valuation pursuant to this section shall be claimed in order to be allowed. The owner of the land shall make application to the county assessor in a tax year in which the valuation method of this section is first claimed to be applicable to the land or in a tax year immediately subsequent to a tax year in which the land was not valued under this section. Application shall be made under oath and shall be in a form, and contain the information, required by department rule. The application shall be made no later than thirty days after the date of mailing by the county assessor of the notice of valuation. Once land is valued under this section, an application shall be resubmitted and claimed:
(1) in the tax year immediately following the tax year in which a change of use or a change in ownership occurs; or
(2) six years following the tax year in which the last application was made and granted.
F. The owner of land valued pursuant to this section shall report to the county assessor whenever a change of ownership or the use of the land changes so that the land is no longer being used primarily to conserve the unimproved land pursuant to qualified guidelines. The report shall be made on or before the last day of February of the tax year immediately following the year in which the change of ownership or change in the use of the land occurs.
G. If an owner of land valued pursuant to this section changes the use of the land or builds physical improvements on the land for purposes other than for agricultural use or to conserve the unimproved land, and who is the owner of record at the time the change in use or the improvements are made, the owner shall be personally liable for the difference between the taxes assessed against the land and the taxes that would otherwise have been assessed against the land based on the current and correct value at the time that the change occurs or the improvements are made for each of the number of years the land was valued pursuant to this section, up to a maximum of five years, to be collected and distributed in the same manner as other ad valorem levies.
H. As used in this section:
(1) "qualified agency" means the energy, minerals and natural resources department; department of environment; department of game and fish; New Mexico department of agriculture; or a soil and water conservation district; and
(2) "qualified management plan" means a plan:
(a) for conservation and management practices that are appropriate to conserve and maintain unimproved land;
(b) to maintain or increase the productivity of land; and
(c) to support rangeland, watershed and forest health, wildlife habitat or soil and water conservation."
SECTION 2. APPROPRIATION.--Five million dollars ($5,000,000) is appropriated from the general fund to the local government division of the department of finance and administration for expenditure in fiscal year 2024 to purchase or upgrade software for computer-assisted mass appraisal systems to carry out the provisions of Section 1 of this act. Any unexpended or unencumbered balance remaining at the end of fiscal year 2024 shall revert to the general fund.
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