Maryland State Legislature Passes New Urban Agriculture Tax Credit Bill

On April 5, 2014, the Maryland General Assembly passed the “Property Tax Credit – Urban Agricultural Property” bill authorizing Maryland counties and the City of Baltimore to implement a property tax credit for urban land used for agricultural purposes. The bill identifies Urban Agriculture Property to be any land larger than 1/8 acre and smaller than 5 acres, which is located in a priority funding area and used for urban agricultural purposes. “Urban agricultural purposes” means

1)      Crop production activities

2)      Environmental mitigation activities

3)      Community development activities, including recreational activities, food donations, and food preparation and canning classes

4)      Economic development activities, including employment and training opportunities, and direct sales to restaurants and institutions

5)      Temporary produce stands selling on-site produce

In 2010, the Maryland State Legislature adopted a similar bill authorizing the tax credit for properties used exclusively for urban agricultural purposes. In November 2011, however, Baltimore City Council declined to adopt such a credit, stating that it would set a bad precedent. The 2014 version, introduced on January 17, 2104 by Delegates Samuel Rosenberg (Baltimore City) and Jon Cardin (Baltimore County), is more inclusive than its 2010 counterpart, because it includes urban farmers who reside on their property or do not use the land exclusively for urban agricultural activities.

The bill is set to take effect July 1, 2014, pending the Governor’s signature.  Baltimore City Council and the Mayor’s Office will then have to consider whether to implement this tax credit in the City of Baltimore and, if so, determine

1)      The amount of the tax credit

2)      Any additional eligibility criteria

3)      Regulations and procedures for applications

When the first bill failed before the City Council in 2011, Councilmembers Mary Pat Clarke and Warren Branch proposed a 100% tax break for urban agricultural projects that promoted agriculture, preservation, or environmental education. Because the bill simply authorizes the City to offer this tax credit to the public, the specifics about who can qualify and how much the credit will be worth have yet to be determined. Other states, including California, have adopted similar laws allowing urban farmers the benefit of a tax credit. However, cities have yet to opt in to these programs and begin offering them to urban farmers.

Note: This blog post will serve as an update to the May 2012 post by Becky Witt.

Posted on by Kristine Dunkerton

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