Depending on the size of your property, by keeping 6 or more colonies of bees, you may be able to considerably reduce your property taxes.
What is commonly referred to as an "Agriculture Exemption" is not actually an exemption but rather an alternate valuation of your property based on an agricultural use. If a property is deemed eligible to receive an agricultural valuation, that property will receive an ag production value as the basis for determining the property tax assessed, rather than its market value.
In 2012 the Texas legislature amended section 23.51 of the property tax code to include the “keeping” of a honey bee apiary on a property as an agricultural use that can qualify the property for ag valuation. This means that a qualifying property would be taxed at a lower rate based on the production value for the agriculture activity rather than on the current market value of the property.
"Beekeeping is an agricultural use and shall qualify for agricultural use productivity valuation if used for pollination or for the production of human food or other tangible products having a commercial value."
(Appraisal District Ag Manual - Williamson County, Texas)
If your property qualified for the ag valuation then you would be taxed on the value of the agricultural production potential, not on what the property could sell for.
Let us say that you own 10 acres near Round Rock, Texas that has a market value of $100,000 and the tax rate is 2%. Your yearly tax bill would be $2,000.
If you kept an apiary of eight honey bee colonies that qualified your property for ag valuation, and the production value for bees in your area is $1,000 per acre, then the production value for your property would be $1,000/acre times 10 acres which equals $10,000. Your taxes would be 2% of $10,000 which equals $200 per year, a savings of $1800 per year.
Requirements for Texas Ag Valuation
There are three main requirements for your property to qualify for ag valuation in most counties in Texas.
1. Acreage Requirement
Property must be at least five acres and not more than twenty acres. If a homestead exemption is claimed, this will generally remove one acre from the amount needed to qualify, so six acres would need to be owned to qualify for the ag valuation with a home on the property.
2. Intensity of Use Requirement
A minimum of six colonies is required for the first five acres, and then one colony must be added for every two acres* up to twenty acres. For example, if a property owner has fifteen acres of land used for beekeeping, eleven colonies would be needed to qualify the property for the ag valuation.
|First 5 acres||6 colonies|
|Additional 10 acres||5 colonies|
|Total colonies required||11 colonies|
*Most counties require an additional bee colony for every 1.5 to 2.5 acres beyond the first five acres. Check with the county appraisal district in your county for specific requirements in your area.
Bee Guidelines and Intensity Levels
The attached, printable document shows the bee guidelines and intensity levels within various Texas county appraisal districts.
3. History of Use Requirement
Property owners must establish a five-year history of “qualifying” ag use, such as beekeeping, before the property will qualify for ag valuation. The owner will need to document that the apiary has been operated “for pollination or for the production of other tangible [beehive] products having a commercial value.”
We Can Help!
We have over 40 years of beekeeping experience. Let us equip and guide you in “keeping” honey bees on your property. If you are not up to “keeping” bees for yourself, our beekeepers can establish and maintain your apiary that can qualify your property for ag valuation. We work with many county appraisal districts in central Texas and can make sure you are managing and documenting your apiary to qualify you for ag valuation on your property.