Family Forest Research Center

[ U.S. Forest Service ] [ University of Massachusetts Amherst ]

Effect of State & Local Taxes on Family Forests

Project Report:Effects of Federal, State, and Local Tax Policies on Family Forest Owners: Technical Report (PDF)

Appendix I: One Page Summaries: Project Overview, Property Taxes, Income Taxes, Estate Taxes, Project Conclusions (PDF)

Appendix II: Annotated Bibliography of Selected Studies (PDF)

Appendix III: Policy Verification Questionnaire (PDF)

Appendix IV: Family Forest Owner Focus Group Report (PDF)

Appendix V: Family Forest Owner Focus Group Topic Guide (PDF)

Appendix VI: Family Forest Owner Focus Group Screener (PDF)

Yale Forest Forum Review: Tax Policies and Family Forest Owners (PDF)

In the United States, about 35% of the forestland is owned by 10 million family forest owners (Butler 2008). A wide range of policy tools have been adopted to encourage sustainable family forest management, including technical assistance, outreach education, financial incentives, regulations, as well as public ownership. Among these policies and programs, financial incentives, particularly tax incentives, play a prominent role (Kilgore et al. 2007). Research on tax incentives has mostly focused on three particular types of policies and programs: income tax, property tax, and estate tax.

In contrast to the body of literature addressing the financial impliciations of tax policies, no published studies have analyzed the cumulative impact of tax policies on the decision-making behavior of family forest owners. This suggests a need for an up-to-date, comprehensive understanding of existing tax policies and programs across the country and their impacts on family forest owners.

This project addresses three questions:

  1. 1) What is the current landscape of federal, state, and local tax policies affecting family forest owners?
  2. 2) What are the impacts of these tax policies on family forest owners' decisions?
  3. 3) What are the strengths and weaknesses of these tax policies?



  • Butler, B.J. 2008. Family forest owners of the United States, 2006. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-27. Newtown Square, PA: USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station.
  • Kilgore, M.A., J.L. Greene, M.G. Jacobson, T.J. Straka, S.E. Daniels. 2007. The influence of financial incentive programs in promoting sustainable forestry on the nation’s family forests. Journal of Forestry 105(4): 184-191.

Primary funding for this project was provided by the American Forest Foundation. Additional funding was provided by the USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Environmental Conservation.