FOR SEVERAL YEARS, the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) has provided financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes, and vines that have been damaged by natural disasters or diseases, such as canker or greening. Thanks to the Agricultural Act of 2014, TAP is now a permanent disaster program that will be administered by the Farm Services Agency (FSA) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Agricultural Act also provides retroactive authority to cover eligible losses dating back to October 1, 2011.
To qualify, the tree must be an annual crop or a nursery tree that is produced for commercial sale. Trees used for pulp or timber are ineligible. The loss must be visible and obvious, however the FSA may accept other loss evidence if necessary. The FSA also must confirm that you could not have taken preventive measures to protect the damaged trees.
In order for your loss to qualify, orchardists and nursery tree growers must sustain loss or damage in excess of 15 percent after adjustment for normal mortality damage. You also must have owned the eligible trees when the disaster occurred and replace them within one year from the date your application is approved.
For losses suffered in 2015 and beyond, you must submit an application and supporting documents to the FSA within the latter of 90 calendar days of the disaster event or the date when the loss is apparent. If you are reporting a loss that occurred on or after October 1, 2011, through the end of 2014, you can submit the appropriate documents through January 31, 2015. Once the application is submitted, there are gross income limitations that must be calculated to determine if a taxpayer is eligible for funds under this program.
To find out more on TAP and whether you are eligible, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture website: www.fsa.usda.gov.
column by Steven Crisman
BIO: Steven Crisman is the managing partner of Cross, Fernandez & Riley, LLP’s (C/F/R) Winter Haven office and leads its Agriculture Practice Group. He primarily serves the agriculture, manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution industries. He has specific experience with citrus growers, cattle ranchers, citrus and other horticultural nurseries, citrus harvesters and other support industries, as well as watermelon, blueberry and other growers. In addition, Steve provides comprehensive tax and estate planning, attestation, and business succession planning services.