Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A few cattle and a tax break …

   The recent fiancial disasters have made dubious many arguments about “trusting” the free market to made good choices for the nation.  But when government makes these choices, there is no guarantee that it will do better.  Government too may be susceptible to abuse.  Indeed, when government tries to shape behavior to the public good by land use law, it may often allow clever property owners to use the laws to their advantage.
Cow    Here’s a story from central Florida about a local government official and property owner, and a tax break designed to encourage “greenbelt” uses of land.  According to the story in the St. Petersburg Times, the property owner allowed 11 head of cattle (picture of generic cow at left) to graze on some land he had recently purchased, which entitled him a significant tax exemption on the land.  Within a few months after the exemption was granted this year, the property owner put one-third of the land up for sale as private residential construction.  According to the story, which speaks for itself, even a quick sale would not affect the tax exemption for any of this year.   
   Now this probably isn’t what the drafters of the agricultural land use tax exemption had in mind, was it?      
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