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Property Tax Breaks in Colorado? You Can Bet the Farm on It

1 min readBy: Alicia Hansen

An entertaining MSN Money article today discusses Tom Cruise’s little known farming career and Colorado’s method of handing out property taxA property tax is primarily levied on immovable property like land and buildings, as well as on tangible personal property that is movable, like vehicles and equipment. Property taxes are the single largest source of state and local revenue in the U.S. and help fund schools, roads, police, and other services. breaks for land designated as agricultural:

The Denver Post lists the wide array of so-called Colorado agronomists who have “secured low property taxes through agricultural designations on land they own even though they personally have little or nothing to do with producing food.”

Among those the newspaper cites as benefiting from being deemed owners of agricultural property are actors Tom Cruise, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, a network television executive and his former-actress wife, an energy industry billionaire, a professional blackjack player turned media mogul, a ski gear inventor and a Colorado state senator.

In many cases, the land where these folks’ homes (which usually are second, third or fourth residential properties) are located actually once was a working ranch or farm, reports the Post. But the original owners sold the parcels off to today’s “gentlemen ranchers.”

And hundreds of those ranching and farming impostors are still getting the original taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. break. They keep a few livestock around or a small patch of land planted with a crop, allowing them to reap the rewards of the Colorado law and cut their annual taxes from thousands of dollars to two-figure amounts.

Now I wouldn’t call these folks tax cheats. They are just taking advantage of a loophole big enough to drive a tractor, which they’d have is [sic] they were real farmers or ranchers, through.

Read the Denver Post list of “farm” owners.

More on Colorado’s tax system and property taxes.