Sec. 74.485. Wis. Stats., specifies the charge for converting property that has been classified agricultural. Conversion Charges, previously known as penalties, were first reflected on the January 1, 2003 assessment roll by 2001 Wisconsin Act 109. 2007 Wisconsin Act 210 amended the notice of assessment and use-value conversion charge laws. The following amendments are effective January 1, 2008.

  • The penalty for converting agricultural land is now referred to as a Charge for converting agricultural land.
  • The Assessor must provide the property owner with a notice that a Conversion Charge may be due.
  • The Assessor must also provide the County Treasurer with all of the information that is necessary to compute the Conversion Charges.
  • Additional detail is provided within the Assessor section below.

Generally, converting the use of the property and having had the opportunity to challenge the Assessor's decision to reflect that change in classification on the following years' roll, precedes the County Treasurer's issuance of the Conversion Charge. (For conversions prior to calendar year 2002, contact the Supervisor of Equalization for your county.) The Department of Revenue (DOR) has prepared a listing of frequently asked questions (FAQ), which can be reviewed at Use-Value Conversion Charge FAQ's

NOTE: The use-value conversion charge is separate and not associated with the rezoning conversion fee. The rezoning conversion fee was included in the 2009-2011 state budget as part of the Wisconsin Working Lands Program administered by the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection - https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Programs_Services/FarmlandPreservation.aspx.

FOR THE PROPERTY OWNER

The owner of the property at the time the change in use took place, and the buyer, where a sale takes place, want to be able to make reasonable estimates of the Conversion Charge. This worksheet can be used by the property owner, the Assessor or the County Treasurer to project a Conversion Charge. One needs to be careful that when the calculation is made, the dollar per acre Conversion Charge is calculated using the county averages for the county in which the parcels lie. The "Use-Value Charge for Converting Agricultural Land s. 74.485" lists the latest conversion charges reported by county. A description of this procedure is the "Agricultural Use-Value Conversion Charge Worksheet.

FOR THE ASSESSOR

Under sec. 70.365, Wis. Stats., the Assessor must provide the property owner with a notice that a Conversion Charge may be due when land changes classification from agricultural to residential, commercial or manufacturing.

  • The notice shall be in writing and sent by ordinary mail at least 15 days before the meeting of the Board of Review. If the Owner's address is not known the Assessor shall provide the notification to the occupant of the property.
  • When a property has sold and the property owner who may be subject to a Conversion Charge and the current owner are different, the Assessor must provide the Notice of Assessment and Notice of Conversion Charge to both the previous owner and the current owner.
  • An example notice is available at Agricultural Land Conversion Charge

Under sec 74.485(8), Wis. Stats., the Assessor must provide the County Treasurer with all information necessary to compute the agricultural land Conversion Charges no later than 15 days after the Board of Review has adjourned. The Assessor must provide the County Treasurer with the following information on an annual basis:

  • Assessor and Municipal Information
    • Assessor Name and Company Name, if Applicable
    • Complete Assessor Mailing Address, Phone Number, Fax Number and E-Mail
    • Name of Municipality
    • Board of Review Completion Date
    • Date of Submission
    • Assessor's Signature
  • Land Subject to a Conversion Charge:
    • Parcel Number
    • Owner's Name at Time of Conversion
    • Complete Mailing Address of the Owner
    • Number of Acres Converted
  • In the event there are no conversions subject to a Conversion Charge, the Assessor will enter "None" on the form and submit to the County Treasurer.
  • The Department provides a sample form and all of the required data fields at Assessor Worksheet.

Given the electronic assessment data in many counties, it is anticipated that the Assessors and Treasurers can work together to minimize the Assessors work. However, if no easy electronic process is developed, a format of the data necessary for the Assessor to provide to the Treasurer after completion of the Board of Review is the "Assessor Worksheet." The format is suggested; the data elements are what is important. It is critical that the Assessor list the owner at the time of conversion. It is possible that the Assessor will not know the current address; in that instance, after reasonable diligence is made to determine the proper address, the address of the property should be used.

FOR THE COUNTRY TREASURER

DOR has received feedback that a sample charge form be suggested for use in issuing the charge. Ultimately, collection is the responsibility of the County Treasurer, and this Issuance of Conversion Charge format is a suggested template that should be reviewed internally by the county and modified as seen fit.

May 12, 2016