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Although the recent case between the New England Forest Foundation and the Board of Assessors of Hawley, 468 Mass. 138, was only about a bill of $173, the issues are much bigger than that would lead you to believe.

Forest land of over 10 acres already gets a tax incentive which reduces their tax liability significantly under MGL 61 s.2.  The Foundation wanted to eliminate the tax entirely, and get the charitable exemption under MGL 59 s. 5.  There is a dearth of cases regarding conservation tax exemptions.

The town was claiming that it did not do enough for the public to qualify for a charitable tax exemption.  The Supreme Judicial Court, citing benefits of the forest to fighting climate change, and its sustainable forestry practices,  said that it does.

For a detailed account of the issues, see the WBUR article.

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