For many Free Staters, one of the most important features when looking for a home in New Hampshire is acreage. But the downside of all that peace and space to roam can be a burdensome property tax bill.

In New Hampshire, there is a way to save on taxes if you own more than 10 acres: current use.

What is “current use?”

Current use is a tax strategy that makes it easy for homeowners to keep their acreage undeveloped and taxed at a lower rate. Instead of being taxed at its market value, the land is assessed at a much lower valuation. The caveat is that buildings and other improvements (like driveways or septic systems, for example) are excluded from current use; that is, any houses, outbuildings, septic systems and/or wells must be OUTSIDE of the 10-acre boundary. It is estimated that over half of New Hampshire’s 5.74 million acres are in current use.

What kind of property can be part of current use?

trilliums by Mary SorensAny undeveloped land that is over 10 acres can enroll in current use. So, if you have farm land, forest land, wetlands or other land unsuitable for agriculture or forest products, you may qualify for current use status. Buildings and other improvements, such as driveways and septic systems, or “curtilage” land that is needed to support surrounding structures, are excluded from current use.

How can I get my land into current use?

Property owners must apply to their town and commit their land to open space conservation. Town officials will assess the land using the criteria established by the state Current Use Board. If land in current use is later developed, or an owner otherwise changes its use to one not qualifying for current use, a land use change tax (currently at 10% of the current market value of the land at its highest and best use) is charged, even if the owner has no plans to develop the land further. If you sell your property and part of it is in current use, the current use status runs with the land.

Will my land be open to the public if it is in current use?

woodsLand in current use can be posted against trespassing. Owners may receive additional tax savings if they keep their land open and free to use all year for hunting, fishing, snowshoeing, hiking, skiing and nature observation. If you’d like the additional discount, you should check with your town about filing for a recreational discount.

If you’re interested in buying a property with significant acreage or have further questions on current use, email Porcupine Real Estate.

Porcupine Real Estate assists with buying or selling homes in New Hampshire, and also helps with finding rentals. Founded by early mover Mark Warden, Porcupine Real Estate is comprised of Free Staters committed to helping clients find the right town and the right property. In order to make the liberty community as successful and powerful as possible, it’s important to support the people, causes and businesses that our community members represent. We practice that support every day and hope you will do the same by engaging our professional services.