Realty & Natural Resources
Alaska Region   

Land Acquisition

Payments in Lieu of Real Property Tax

Refuge Revenue Sharing Act

Frequently Asked Questions:

How does acquisition of private land by the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) affect the local real property tax situation?
Lands acquired by the Service are removed from the tax rolls; however, under provisions of the Revenue Sharing Act, the county or other local unit of government receives an annual revenue sharing payment which often equals or exceeds the amount that would have been collected from taxes if in private ownership.

Lands acquired by the Fish and Wildlife Service from Alaska Native Corporations or Alaska Native Allottees, though exempt from property taxes before acquisition by the Service, will also be included in a revenue sharing payment.

Why doesn’t the Service pay taxes?
The United States Government, like city, township, county and state governments, is exempt from taxation.

How is the payment of Service lands computed?
Payments are based on the greatest of: ¾ of 1 percent of the fair market value; 25 percent of net refuge receipts; or $.75 per acre. Public domain land (land that has never been taxed) continues to share on the basis of 25 percent of net refuge receipts.

What Service lands are included under provisions of the Act?
All lands administered solely or primarily by the Service such as National Wildlife Refuges, National Fish Hatcheries, Waterfowl Production Areas, Administrative sites, and Laboratories and Research Centers are covered. Public Domain lands under primary jurisdiction of the Service are also included.

Are payments for public domain lands computed on the same basis?
No. If there is income from these lands, a payment of 25 percent of the net income is made. These lands are also entitlement lands under the Payment in Lieu of Taxes Act (Public Law 94-565) administered by the Bureau of Land Management.

Do payments remain the same year after year?
Just as assessments on private land change, lands owned by the Service are reappraised by the Service at least once every five years.

When are payments made?
Payments are usually made in May/June.

Who receives the payment?
The payment is received by the unit of local government that levies and collects general purpose real property taxes. These may be boroughs, municipalities, the State, etc.

How is the payment distributed?
The unit of local government is responsible to pass through funds to sub-units of local government that incur a loss of tax revenue due to lands being removed from the tax rolls upon acquisition by the Service.

Are there any restrictions on how the money may be spent?
The money may be used for any governmental purpose.

Where does the Service get the money for the revenue sharing payment?
The revenue sharing fund consists of net income from the sale of products or privileges. Some examples are timber sales, grazing fees, permit fees, oil and gas royalties, etc.

What if there is not enough money in the fund to cover the payments?
Congress is authorized to appropriate money to make up the deficit. Should Congress fail to appropriate such funds, payments to units of local government will be reduced accordingly.

What association is there between the Refuge Revenue Sharing Act and other Federal revenue sharing payments to local governments?
The Refuge Revenue Sharing Act relates entirely to Fish and Wildlife Service land. It is funded and administered separately from other Federal revenue sharing programs.

Last updated: August 26, 2008

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