The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (PCA) and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (DOA) both have roles to play in the determination of the appropriate contamination tax rate to use and in the ultimate exemption of property from the contamination tax.
As previously mentioned, one of the documents that a property owner needs to provide the assessor in order to receive the lower contamination tax rates of 50% (cleanup plan, responsible party) or 12.5% (cleanup plan, nonresponsible party) is a copy of a response action plan approved by either the PCA or the DOA.
A "response plan" means:
a development action response plan, as defined in M.S. 469.174, Subd. 17;
a response action plan under M.S. Chapter 115B or a corrective action plan under M.S. Chapter 18D;
a plan for corrective action approved by the Commissioner of Agriculture under M.S. 18D.105; or
a plan for corrective action approved by the Commissioner of the Pollution Control Agency under M.S. 115C.03.
A property owner is a responsible party unless the PCA or the DOA has determined that the property owner is not a responsible party under a statute that allows the PCA or the DOA to make such a determination under certain circumstances.
An example is M.S. 115B.177, which allows the Commissioner of the Pollution Control Agency or the Commissioner of Agriculture to issue a written determination to take no action under M.S. 115B.01 to 115B.18 against the owner of contaminated property if the Commissioner finds that the release of the hazardous substance originates from a source on adjacent or nearby property owned by someone else, and that the owner is not otherwise responsible for the release.
If such a determination has been made by the PCA or the DOA, the property owner has until July 1 of the assessment year to provide the assessor with a copy of the determination. This is required to receive the lower contamination tax rates of 25% (no cleanup plan, nonresponsible party) or 12.5% (cleanup plan, nonresponsible party).
When the work under a response action plan is completed, the contamination tax no longer applies. The work is done when the PCA or the DOA has determined that all of the requirements of the plan have been satisfied.
Exemption from the contamination tax begins in the first assessment year after the year in which this determination by the PCA or DOA is made. For example, if the PCA made a determination in 2010 that all of the requirements of a response action plan had been satisfied, the property would qualify for exemption from the contamination tax effective with assessment year 2011, taxes payable year 2012.
In order to actually receive the exemption from the contamination tax, the property owner must provide the assessor with a copy of the determination by the PCA or DOA of the completion of the response action plan.
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