Home owner wins tax battle with La Plata County

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La Plata County has dropped a legal fight versus a property owner accused of using the agricultural-exempt tax status for its tax split, but not truly making use of the land for any ranching or farming things to do.

Decades back, the condition of Colorado produced a tax break for agricultural operators to give assistance to the men and women who develop meals and, as an additional reward, enable protect the open area that defines the Colorado landscape.

However, it’s a constant energy for county governments to weed out individuals who declare the agricultural exempt position just for the tax break.

Each and every two yrs, the La Plata County Assessor’s Business conducts land valuations, based on area investigations, land income and other aspects.

As element of that approach, the Assessor’s Business office helps make absolutely sure those professing the agricultural tax position are in simple fact working with their land to produce a product on the land and market it for profit.

If that is identified not to be the case, the Assessor’s Place of work can delist the assets. Landowners then have the option to protest the selection.

Past yr, the Assessor’s Office environment moved to delist a mainly undeveloped 186-acre home on the corner of U.S. Freeway 550 and County Road 302, acknowledged as Vista Pacifica, about 10 miles south of Durango.

County Assessor Carrie Woodson mentioned beforehand the assets is break up into 20 plenty for household progress. Nonetheless, only two a lot have homes on them, and the relaxation of the house is vacant.

The vacant lots, Woodson explained, experienced the ag position, but the Assessor’s Office environment moved to eliminate the listing due to the fact a herd of sheep grazed on the home only a couple of times out of the year.

“It (agricultural) seriously is not the major goal of that assets,” she reported at that time. “Based on that info, we felt that use (sheep grazing for a temporary time) was incidental to the principal purpose of that home, and our stance was to clear away (the ag standing).”

The property proprietor, Randy Wilson, contested the Assessor’s Office, interesting to the point out of Colorado’s Board of Assessment Appeals.

The board heard arguments in August and issued a selection final week in favor of Wilson, declaring the presented proof supports the claim the land is remaining made use of as a farm and ranch.

The board stated the residence incorporates a pasture, store structures, fuel tanks and a pond made use of to drinking water livestock. The board also said there was proof cattle are contained in fences on the assets, and an irrigation ditch is in use.

The board claimed proof was introduced that 1,387 sheep grazed on the residence for 3 times in 2018. Past experiences have reported the sheep belong to Ignacio rancher J. Paul Brown.

The board also mentioned the house was made use of to generate 118 bales of hay that had been sold in 2019. It seems Wilson has h2o rights that were utilized to irrigate the residence for hay and winter wheat, the board wrote.

“In sum, the topic assets fulfills both equally the definition of a ‘farm’ and a ‘ranch,’” the board wrote in its final decision. “Therefore, it is acceptable that the subject acquire agricultural classification for tax 12 months 2019.”

The Assessor’s Business was purchased to alter Wilson’s land classification back to agricultural.

“We are dissatisfied and will be reviewing the ruling and weighing our selections on transferring forward,” Woodson wrote in an e mail to The Durango Herald.

Because of the agricultural standing, Wilson pays about $2,500 in residence taxes, Woodson reported beforehand supplying a tough estimate. Experienced the county prevailed, Wilson would have paid about $8,100 a yr.

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