Most Trust Lands Are on Tax Rolls

Public lands in Maine and around the country are exempt from paying property taxes.

While land trust conserved lands provide similar benefits to public lands and many land trust properties are eligible for tax exemption, nearly 95% of all land trust conserved lands in Maine remain on the Tax Rolls.

In July 2017, Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) surveyed members of the Maine Land Trust Network, which includes most of the State’s land trust community. 70 land trusts participated. Data from a 2015 MCHT land trust census was used to fill in gaps for those organizations that did not complete the survey.

More than 55,000 acres accounted for in the PILOT category is owned by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and is currently tax exempt. TNC has sponsored legislation for the past four years that would allow them to enroll this land in the Open Space Law (state caps Open Space at 15,000 acres) or make PILOTs to the county (this land is in the unorganized territory). A bill passed in 2017 that will allow them to make PILOTs on this land in 2018, which they intend to do.

Land Trust Conserved Land

  • On 94.5% of the acres, the land is on the tax rolls
    • 1.9million acres with conservation easements
    • 460,000 acres owned by land conservation organizations
  • On 4.0% of the acres (100,000 acres), the land trust makes payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs)
  • On 1.5% of the acres, the land is tax exempt and no PILOTs are made
    • Impacts a little more than 30,000 acres of land in municipalities
    • Impacts roughly 0.3% of municipal land in the state
    • More than 70% of municipalities (300+ communities) have no land in this category
  • Most land trust conserved land is also subject to state’s Forestry Excise Tax, which funds forest fire protection efforts in Maine. 

More impacts