Celebrities, pols benefit from Colorado ag tax breaks

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER – Goldie Hawn, Tom Cruise and media mogul Charlie Ergen are among the people benefiting from a legal property tax break because their Colorado homes and estates are categorized as agricultural land.

People can qualify for the agricultural tax rate simply by cutting hay or allowing livestock to graze on their land, even if they don’t have very much to do with food production, The Denver Post reported Monday.

Cruise allows sheep to graze for brief periods each year on the land he owns near Telluride. The newspaper says the actor pays about $400 in taxes on the 248 acres he bought for nearly $18 million.

He pays $11,380 in taxes on another property where his vacation home is located.

Elected officials in Colorado are also paying the lower agricultural tax rate.

Democratic State Sen. Gail Schwartz and her husband pay $54.52 in yearly taxes on 15.4 acres of meadowland in a Basalt subdivision. They bought it for $690,000 in 2004.

“This land is doing the same thing it has been doing for 100 years. It’s irrigated, it grows hay and it’s completely in the heart of agricultural land in our valley. It’s not a subdivision scam,” Schwartz told The Associated Press.

The Post said Republican state treasurer Walker Stapleton, who has worked as a real estate investor, and a family member pay $116 in taxes on 180 acres near Castle Rock.

A spokesman for Stapleton said he owns only 10 percent of the parcel near Castle Rock.

Representatives for Hawn, Cruise and Ergen didn’t immediately provide comment on their properties.