Minnesota counties receive $36.3 million in Payment in Lieu of Taxes in 2021

September 23, 2021

PILT is one important way Minnesota’s public lands contribute to the state’s quality of life and natural resource-based economy

This year, Minnesota’s 87 counties are the beneficiaries of $36.3 million in aid that helps support public lands and provide critical links within the state’s public recreation system.

As we approach National Public Lands Day on Sept. 25, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is highlighting this important contribution of public lands to the state’s economy.

Each year, the state’s Department of Revenue distributes annual payments for Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), a property tax relief program that offsets tax revenues not collected on public lands. Counties have received PILT payments annually since 1979 in place of property taxes on 5.6 million acres of state-managed lands and 2.8 million acres of county-managed tax-forfeited lands. Money for the payments comes from the state’s general fund.

Every county in Minnesota has public lands within its borders and receives an annual PILT payment. In 2021, counties received anywhere from $21,443 in Red Lake County up to $3,786,377 in St. Louis County.

“PILT is an important and consistent revenue source for counties, and the benefits of public lands go far beyond these annual payments,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “With Public Lands Day on Sept. 25, it’s a good time to recognize how these lands support local economies, provide opportunities for outdoor recreation and tourism, create habitat for wildlife, and deliver important ecological benefits like clean air and water.”

The state makes PILT payments on public lands including state parks and forests, scientific and natural areas, wildlife management areas, school trust lands, and Consolidated-Conservation lands, as well as county-managed tax-forfeited lands. Payment rates vary according to land type and generally range from $2 per acre, to three-quarters of 1% of appraised value. 

A breakdown of PILT payments for each county is posted on the Minnesota Department of Revenue website at https://www.revenue.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/2021-06/pilt_bycounty.pdf

More information about Minnesota’s public land portfolio, PILT payments, and a brief history of major public land transactions is available on the DNR’s website at mndnr.gov/publiclands. Follow DNR on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more on Public Lands Day.