Across the Colorado Front Range, real estate developers are using tax breaks, which were designed to help struggling farmers, to amass development tracks and build housing. Recent investigations into tax records show that in eight Front Range counties, developers and realtors with no real connection to farming own roughly 40% of agricultural land parcels. These agricultural parcels, which are taxed as farming land, currently enjoy tax breaks put into effect in the 1980s to help farmers and agricultural developers. The current controversy, however, stems from developer’s purchase and occupation of this land, an ownership which nets them significant tax breaks, without using the land for agricultural purposes. The agricultural property tax allows them to avoid millions of dollars in conventional property taxes, while simultaneously allowing them to wait out the current real estate crisis.
Colorado Democrats argue that increased tax money could be better spent investing in local schools and state infrastructure. Others argue that the tax loopholes add to suburban sprawl and are unfair, not only to farmers and ranchers, but to ordinary tax payers.
Real estate developers argue that their use of agricultural tax breaks lower costs for Colorado homeowners. They also claim that their exploitation of agricultural property taxes is a temporary measure until the national economy turns around.
Local farmers are also worried that any changes to existing tax structures will hurt agricultural production. They argue that removing agricultural property taxes altogether will put many of them out of business.
To learn more about agricultural financing opportunities contact a Farm Plus Financial representative by calling 866-929-5585 or by visiting www.farmloans.com.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer