What is Wildlife Management Tax Valuation (“Wildlife Exemption”)?
Wildlife Management Valuation is an alternate to traditional Agriculture production for maintaining your 1-D-1 Open Space property tax status. It is available to Texas landowners through the Texas State Constitution and is appropriate for almost any property currently in Ag*.
You must submit the proper applications and a Wildlife Management Plan to your County Appraisal District by the Statewide filing deadline of April 30 of the filing year.
WMV is a tax valuation that is exactly the same as your Ag (or Timber) status, but it provides landowners more options for managing their land.
WMV is typically a less expensive and less time consuming means of maintaining a favorable tax valuation as it eliminates the need for fencing, veterinary, harvesting and other expenses associated with farming or ranching.
Generally speaking, moving into WMV appeals to three types of landowners:
- Ranchers, farmers and families who no longer want to continue ranching or farming for a number of reasons but want to continue caring for their land and its wildlife.
- The new rural landowners who want to have their own place in the country without having to deal with livestock or farming.
- Rural landowners who want to increase their profits from hunting enterprise or eco-tourism.
A few of the many benefits associated with switching from an Ag tax valuation to a Wildlife tax valuation are:
- No livestock or fencing requirements
- Enhanced recreational value
- Improved habitat
- Increased wildlife diversity
- Returning your land to its pre-grazing condition
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is WMV an additional property tax break? No. Your taxes will remain at the same favorable rate as under your current Ag status.
- Can I keep part of my land in Ag and put part of it in WMV? Yes. You can divide your land between these two valuations, and change it from year to year.
- Can I move back into Ag once I move my land into WMV? Yes. Since WMV is a form of Ag, you may move back and forth from year to year without losing your status in Ag.
- May I continue livestock grazing or other agriculture under WMV? Agricultural activities may be continued if they are compatible and secondary to your wildlife management. However, you are not required to continue any form of agriculture. Livestock can be a benefit to wildlife habitat if managed carefully.
- How does WMV work? The requirements for WMV are modest, and most landowners are already doing enough to meet the minimum requirements. A minimum of 3 practices from the following menu of 7 (with several options per category) are required annually:
- The 7 Wildlife Management Valuation Compliance Categories:
- Habitat Control (habitat management)
- Erosion Control
- Predator Control
- Providing Supplemental Water
- Providing Supplemental Food
- Providing Supplemental Shelter
- Making Census Counts to determine population
- Most counties require that a Wildlife Management Plan be filed along with an application for WMV. The plan should provide several key pieces of information, including the target wildlife species and the anticipated management activities. Both should be regionally appropriate.
- Is there a filing deadline for the required Wildlife Management Plans? Yes. Applications must be filed between January 1 and April 30 for the effective year.
- Am I required to manage for game animals and hunting? It is not necessary to manage for hunting — non-game wildlife management also qualifies. In fact, many people manage for both game and non-game. With the exception of fish, you may manage for any wildlife native to Texas such as songbirds, butterflies, quail, rabbits, horned toads, road runners and turkey to name just a few.
- Can I develop property and offer the advantages of WMV to the purchasers? An appropriately planned subdivision can provide the opportunity to continue open space valuation under WMV, providing favorable tax status to large lot holders while preventing rollback taxes. Converting to WMV before development will enhance the aesthetics of the property and reduce liability by allowing the removal of livestock, and encouraging wildflowers and other natural vegetation to flourish. Plateau can assist developers through this process by providing a review of plats and owner covenants, establishing a wildlife management property association, creating a wildlife management plan, and providing continuing assistance with plan maintenance.
- Can appraisal districts refuse to consider wildlife appraisal applications? In 1995, the voters of Texas established Wildlife Management Valuation in the Texas Constitution. Many counties are enthusiastic about wildlife valuation. In 2002, it was made law that if a landowner meets the criteria to apply for WMV, the appraisal district shall accept their plan.
- Why is Plateau my best choice? The founders of Plateau helped get the legislation passed to enable WMV, and helped write the implementing regulations for the law. Plateau continues to provide education to the staff of the appraisal districts around the state. Our wildlife biologists, service professionals, and property tax consultants are dedicated to the production and implementation of affordable, customized wildlife management plans. Through consultation on topics ranging from tax appraisal issues to habitat assessment and game management, we can give you the most up-to-date information available to assist you in making sound choices for your land. Our ongoing relationship with the appraisal districts enables us to represent you and your management plan from the application process through inspections and final implementation. We continually research and update our product line to assure that the items available to you are fully functional and appropriate to your wildlife. Knowledgeable professionals assure that services such as brush management and amenities construction enhance rather than damage habitat, enabling you to meet your land management goals and all of the requirements of your plan through a single source.
A few things to consider when hiring a Wildlife Management Company
Before diving into the process of Wildlife Tax Valuation, here are some questions you should consider before you hire someone to handle your Wildlife Management Plan:
- How long has that company been in business?
- Are they more than just a website?
- Do they have a physical location with regular business hours where someone can always be found to help?
- Are their biologists also registered Tax Consultants?
- How many plans have they submitted to your county appraisal district?
- What percentage of their plans get approved?
- Do they follow up/track their plans until approval?
- Are they approved by the CAD to provide these plans?
- Do they offer a complete list of services to compliment your plan?
- Who do I contact when I need something or have questions?
- Do they offer ongoing assistance and consulting free of charge?
- Will they be there in the event of CAD inspections?
- Is a Masters Level, Certified Wildlife Biologist writing your plan?
- What are their credentials, diplomas, certificates?
- Do they have their names and contact info on their website? If not, why?
Property Tax Consultation Services
In addition to the many other services that Plateau Land & Wildlife Management provides to rural landowners, we also provide property tax consultation in matters dealing with your Agricultural (Ag) or Wildlife Management Valuation (WMV). The primary property tax consultation services that Plateau offers are:
- Representing client’s interests in their ability to receive and maintain Ag or WMV
- Denials of tax valuations for Ag or WMV
- On-site representation with the Central Appraisal Districts
- Tax valuation issues
Plateau is uniquely qualified to perform this service because we have master-level biologists on staff who are also registered property tax consultants. This means Plateau professionals have a greater understanding of your property tax issues relative to Ag and Wildlife Management.
One of the most important aspects of our property tax consultation services is that we resolve more than 90% of cases informally. This Plateau ability saves our clients much time and money by avoiding expensive actions with the Appraisal Review Boards and keeping your expenses low.
Texas EcoLab Program
EcoLab is the one exception to the rule of needing a current Agricultural Tax Valuation (Ag) or Timber Valuation on your property to move into Wildlife Management Tax Valuation. Under this program, your land could transition into wildlife management use after just 2 years — a compelling and cost-effective alternative to the minimum 5 years of grazing or farming typically required under Agricultural tax codes for similar properties to qualify for such favorable tax savings.
EcoLab is a partnership between landowners with ecologically valuable land and university students eager to study the ecology of Texas flora and fauna. Landowners open their land to high qualified research scientists to carry out confidential ecological research on their property and in return, enhance the value of their land while also substantially reducing their property taxes by up to 98%.
To learn more, visit the EcoLab page.