Report: Special tax breaks for Tennessee farming land cut into property tax base

About half the land in Tennessee now benefits from a 37-year-old state law that grants special tax privileges to agricultural property owners, according to a new report from State Comptroller Justin Wilson.

This greenbelt law is one of many factors that limits the state’s property tax base, Wilson said.

State officials created greenbelt tax breaks to help Tennesseans hold onto their farms, provided they maintain at least 15 acres of farmland, forests or open spaces. The law allows taxes to be based on the property’s use value rather than its fair market value.

The new report, though, said nothing about the law’s potential for abuse.

Four counties previously identified as not following procedures to prevent abuse of greenbelt laws are apparently following through now.

Property appraisers in Macon and DeKalb counties are now recertifying these greenbelt properties when property owners sell their land, according to audits released this year for those two counties.

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