Thursday, December 30, 2010

Colorado energy companies take advantage of lower agricultural tax rate

When it comes to property taxes, some of Colorado's major oil and gas firms also rank as the state's largest farmers and ranchers. Energy companies own more than 150,000 acres of agricultural lands in the western part of the state where oil and gas wells and cattle mingle for significant tax breaks. Energy companies can get in on the lower agricultural property taxes because of changes made 13 years ago to the tax requirements. Lowered tax rates were originally established in 1982 to aid the state's food producers. However, restrictions on who could claim those taxes were eased in 1997. As a result, landowners are allowed to claim agricultural status, even if they are not in the farm and ranch business. But they must lease their property for that purpose. Another change specified that lands can be assessed at the agricultural rate no matter what the intended future use is. The energy behemoth Chevron Corp. owns more than 80,000 agriculturally taxed acres in the Piceance Basin. Company representative Scott Walker said most of that land was purchased decades ago for oil-shale development, but all of it is now leased to area ranchers who work around Chevron's natural-gas drilling...more

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