Since the property tax savings are the same with either a Texas wildlife exemption or Texas agricultural exemption, the answer depends on your use of the land. If you primarily feed deer or create habitat for birds as opposed to baling hay or running cattle, you may be already conducting most – or all – of the required practices to qualify for a wildlife management use. Properties that are presently under timber exemption would be natural candidates as little or no hay production or grazing of animals is typically possible. Since the base exemption is agriculture, regardless of whether in a wildlife or timber use, you can always change from wildlife to some other agricultural practice. You can still have cattle or bale grass while under wildlife exemption and in fact managed grazing is often beneficial to maintaining productive wildlife habitat.
While you want to make sure the type of exemption you apply for reflects your actual use of the property, don’t make it a complex process. Unless you are making an intensive change from one type use to the other – say, all cattle grazing to all wildlife management, there is very little reason to make application to change the use exemption. And since all exemptions originate from an agricultural base exemption, there is typically no additional tax savings to be had by switching unless you change your use of the land substantially. If you question whether your new use would be considered a substantial change, you can always informally ask the appraisal district if a new application – and different type exemption – is necessary.
Also, before you change any use status, keep in mind that the uses of your property are not mutually exclusive, so if you are grazing cattle it does not preclude you from planting supplemental crops for deer or adding water features for wildlife.
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