Riparian Forest Buffer Tax Credit

One of the most effective forestry best management practices to protect water quality is the streamside buffer. Landowners who harvest timber and retain a streamside buffer may be eligible for a tax credit for a portion of the value of the timber retained as a buffer. The amount of the credit is equal to 25% of the value of the timber retained as a buffer up to a maximum of $17,500 in the tax year in which the harvesting operation is completed.

Who is Eligible

  • Individuals, partnerships, S-corporations, family partnerships, grantors, trusts, and limited liability corporations. Must be a Virginia tax-paying landowner.
  • The tract must be at least 10 acres in size (including contained buffers).
  • If the riparian forest buffers belonging to the same landowner cross the state boundary, only the portion contained within the state boundary will qualify for the tax credit.
  • The applicant’s harvesting operation must be complete to qualify for the tax credit.
  • The applicant is eligible for the tax credit for the tax year in which the harvesting operation was completed. Any unused portion of the tax credit may be carried over for up to five additional years of until completely used.

Buffer Specifications

  • The riparian buffer must be at least 35 feet wide and no greater than 300 feet wide.
  • At least 50% of the crown cover must remain following the harvest.
  • All waterways of the Commonwealth are eligible and must follow the stream designation as identified in the “Forestry Best Management Practices in Virginia” Technical Guide.

To Apply

The applicant must provide the following information to the local Virginia Department of Forestry (DOF) Forester:

  • Completed Application for the Riparian Forest Buffer Tax Credit form (Form 18.8)
  • Application fee
  • Proof of land ownership (tax bill, copy of a title or deed, etc.). If multiple owners, the percentage of ownership of each landowner
  • Copy or proof of a DOF-approved Forest Stewardship Management Plan for the tract
  • The value of the timber retained in the buffer either by a timber cruise of the retained buffer or the average per-acre value of the timber harvested for a prorated timber value based on acreage
  • Specific description of the buffer(s), including location and dimensions;
  • Map of the riparian forest buffer(s)

A copy of the DOF final harvest inspection will be provided by the local DOF office.

Get help with mapping, acreage determinations, and applications.

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Additional Resources

ImageTitleIDDescriptionContent TypeViewhf:tax:document-categoryhf:tax:Media
Riparian Buffer Tax Credit Application
Riparian Buffer Tax Credit Application18.08Viewwater-qualityform
Riparian Buffer Tax Credit S-Corporation/Partnership Landowner Information
Riparian Buffer Tax Credit S-Corporation/Partnership Landowner Information18.09Viewwater-qualityform
Riparian Buffers Tax Credit
Riparian Buffers Tax CreditP00123

Brochure described the Riparian Buffers Tax Credit program, including who is eligible, how to sign up, application requirements, application approval, Buffer specifications, noncompliance, and inspections. Printed copies available.


A variety of financial assistance programs are available through DOF and partner agencies for forest management activities to help protect water quality.

Explore All Financial Assistance Programs

Contact Us

Your local DOF forester can assist with mapping and acreage determinations. Contact your local DOF forester.

For more information or questions, e-mail us or use our contact form.