Minnesota’s 87 counties received $36.3 million in payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILT) aid in 2021, the Department of Natural Resources reported Thursday, Sept. 23. PILT payments help support public lands and provide critical links within the state’s public recreation system by offsetting tax revenues not collected on public lands.

The Department of Revenue has distributed PILT payments to counties 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.


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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,” DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen said in a statement. “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, according to a DNR news release. 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.

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