Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT)

In 1976, the federal government created a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program to provide payments to counties and other local governments with substantial acreage of federal land in their jurisdictions. The payments offset losses in tax revenues because federal land is not taxable by local governments. Counties with a substantial amount of land owned by the federal government have struggled to provide adequate services to the public in light of restricted tax revenue.


PILT payments support services like education, solid waste disposal, law enforcement, search and rescue, health care, environmental compliance, fire fighting, parks and recreation and other important community services.

Annual PILT funding levels remained static for many years. For nearly 2 decades, counties watched the value of their PILT receipts drop due to inflation. In 1995, NACo was successful in securing a legislative fix for the PILT formula, (P.L. 103-397), which adjusted annual authorization levels for inflation.

For FY 2014, PILT was extended through the farm bill (P.L. 113-79) as a fully funded, mandatory entitlement program at $425 million. Mandatory funding for FY 2013 was achieved through the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21)(P.L. 112-141) and provided $399 million in PILT funding. Previously, the enactment of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (P.L. 110-343) provided full funding for PILT from FY 2008 through FY 2012. From 1995 to 2007, PILT remained an appropriated program, and as a result was underfunded year after year.

In North Carolina, 47 counties have federal acreage. In FY2014, PILT payments to North Carolina counties totaled more than $4.2 million.

County Acreage FY 2014 Payment
ALLEGHANY 5,841 $17,162
ASHE 1,946 $5,016
AVERY 30,796 $79,383
BEAUFORT 1 $0
BLADEN 66 $170
BRUNSWICK 1,506 $3,882
BUNCOMBE 31,993 $82,468
BURKE 50,343 $129,768
CALDWELL 46,673 $120,308
CAMDEN 258 $665
CARTERET 61,582 $158,739
CHATHAM 38,859 $100,166
CHEROKEE 92,983 $211,630
CLAY 66,599 $171,666
CRAVEN 67,593 $174,233
CURRITUCK 3,296 $8,496
DARE 20,990 $54,105
DAVIDSON 957 $2,467
DURHAM 19,419 $50,056
GRAHAM 113,695 $245,265
GRANVILLE 8,778 $22,627
GUILFORD 205 $7,069
HAYWOOD 129,994 $338,457
HENDERSON 19,060 $49,131
HYDE 2,610 $6,728
JACKSON 76,728 $197,775
JONES 38,965 $100,440
MACON 143,464 $336,731
MADISON 54,295 $139,955
MCDOWELL 66,543 $150,983
MITCHELL 19,411 $50,035
MONTGOMERY 40,361 $104,037
NEW HANOVER 12 $0
ORANGE 90 $232
PAMLICO 4 $0
PENDER 89 $230
RANDOLPH 9,743 $25,114
SURRY 963 $2,483
SWAIN 240,349 $619,543
TRANSYLVANIA 89,094 $211,560
TYRRELL 2 $0
VANCE 22,022 $56,766
WAKE 20,076 $51,749
WARREN 1,811 $4,668
WATAUGA 9,362 $24,132
WILKES 9,691 $26,291
YANCEY 38,824 $100,076