Forest land warning

BC Assessment reminds lawyers, notaries and realtors whose clients are purchasing private forest lands that these lands may be subject to a higher assessment because of previously harvested timber.

According to BC Assessment, the two property classes of forest land are 1) managed forest land and 2) unmanaged forest land. These classes cover all land in the Forest Land Reserve that is used for timber production, plus land outside the reserve that has "as its highest and best use the production and harvesting of timber."

Land in these classes is valued on a two-part basis, as detailed in section 24 of the Assessment Act. First, there is a bare land value that incorporates such factors as soil quality, accessibility, parcel size and location. Second, there is an added value for cut timber when it is harvested.

Timber harvested in the calendar year 2003 will show up as added value on the assessment notice of a forest land property for the 2005 assessment roll. For property taxes payable in the summer of 2005, part of the value may come from trees that were harvested up to two years before. Prospective purchasers of property that is classed as forest land are advised to enquire about previous harvesting on the property and its possible property tax implications.

Both the land and harvested timber are valued on the basis of rates prescribed by the assessment commissioner. The rates for the 2003 assessment year are found in BC Regulation 90/2000.

Further information on valuation and classification can be obtained from BC Assessment through either the local assessor or the Timber Appraiser, Assessment & Valuation Division, 1537 Hillside Avenue, Victoria, BC V8T 4Y2, Tel. 250 595-6211.