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Rent-a-Cow Law

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 02:33 PM CDT
FLORIDA  --  A Florida law designed to give farmers a property tax break is actually costing the state millions of dollars.
    
But it's not the farmers fault.
Real estate developers are finding a way to scam the system.
Some call it America's dumbest tax loophole.
    
It's Florida's rent-a-cow scam.
Each year big time developers in the Sunshine State save millions in property taxes renting cattle.
    
The official name for the "Rent-a-Cow" law is the Greenbelt law.
It was put in place in 1959 to save agricultural land from real-estate developers.
    
But in a twist of fate that's exactly who is taking advantage of it now.
The state of Florida loses an estimated $950 million per year to residents taking advantage of the flawed tax code.
     
Having cows around enables the developers to buy land cheaply, get a huge tax break while waiting for the best time to begin development. Some developers continued to receive the tax break even after construction started!

Jimmy Jackson/Molino
"I think it's a scam. That's what I think." "Somebody else is paying for it."
Barry Swift/Local Goat Farmer
"They've got to address the future land use, and why the land was purchased. I mean to use renting cows to try and get an exemption on their tax is wrong. It's costing money. I mean the state money, the county money, everybody money."

There was an attempt to reform the Greenbelt law in the Florida legislature in 2006 but the bill died in committee.
    
But two years later, the legislature did quietly pass a change to the the Greenbelt law. They made it easier to claim the exemption even if your land is probably too small for commercial farming.

Rent-a-Cow Law


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