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Tax Court Upholds Requirements for Farmland Assessment

Feb 15, 2023 | Written by: Tara A. St. Angelo, Esq. |

The New Jersey Tax Court recently upheld the longstanding precedent that a property owner must show an intent to properly care for crops or other farm products and an intent to sell such products in order to qualify for farmland assessment. 

The plaintiff in Giansanti v. Mantua Township (Docket No. 9102-2021, Feb. 7, 2023) appealed the denial of a farmland assessment application.  The subject property is 6.5 acres and is improved with two residential dwellings.  However, most of the property is unimproved.  The plaintiff’s applications for farmland assessment were denied for the tax years 2019, 2020, and 2021.  The denial notices each advised the plaintiff that the planting area needed to be expanded to meet the minimum requirement of 5 acres.  The plaintiff appealed the denial for the 2021 tax year and the County Tax Board affirmed the Tax Assessor’s decision.  The plaintiff appealed that decision to the New Jersey Tax Court. 

In upholding the denial of the farmland assessment, the Tax Court found that the plaintiff had failed to prove that at least 5 acres of the subject property was devoted to farming activities.  Specifically, the Court took issue with the plaintiff’s planting of Christmas tree saplings.  Based on testimony from the plaintiff, the Court noted that it was clear the plaintiff did not have a plan for where the saplings were planted or for their care.  No irrigation system was put in place and nearly one half of the saplings died within the first year.  The Court stated, “Plaintiff provided no testimony, nor any competent evidence, that the planting of the saplings throughout the subject property was intentional as respects their potential for the future. Instead, it was apparent that the only 'intention' applied to the planting of the saplings was to attempt to enlarge the area qualifying for farmland assessment.”  The Court also relied on precedent in Princeton Research Lands, Inc. v. Upper Freehold Twp., 4 N.J. Tax 402, 411 (Tax 1982), which stated, “The mere planting of trees to be sold at some undetermined future time without requisite care given to the trees is not the production of crops for sale.”  The Court also found it informative that the only sales of farm products made by the plaintiff were to his brothers.  The Court concluded, “It does not appear that plaintiff made any concerted efforts to sell any product to anyone other than family members for a number of years, including the year under appeal.”

Therefore, applicants for farmland assessment should make sure that they have a plan for the planting, production, care, and eventual sale of farmland products. 


Tara St. Angelo, Esq. concentrates her practice primarily in the areas of municipal and land use law.  She was named to the NJ Super Lawyers Rising Stars list for State, Local and Municipal law by Thomson Reuters in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022. Contact Ms. St. Angelo at Gebhardt & Kiefer, PC at 908-735-5161 or via email.

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Any statements made herein are solely for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon or construed as legal advice.