Harvesting Tax Breaks

In Harvesting Tax Breaks, Herald-Leader Reporters John Cheves and Linda Blackford revealed that a tax break intended to save productive farms for future generations instead often winds up benefiting developers or the owners of suburban homes surrounded by vast lawns.

As a result, large landowners enjoy reduced overhead, while their less-fortunate neighbors — middle-class homeowners and business owners — pay higher property taxes to compensate for lost revenue to schools, the city, the health department and other local services. Kentucky’s state government estimates that it will forfeit $98 million in revenue over the next two years because of this tax break.

The series sparked immediate reforms in Lexington and a legislative study of possible statewide reforms. It was awarded a 2016 McClatchy President’s Award. The judges cited “Harvesting Tax Breaks” as “an impressive example of identifying an outrageous problem that’s hiding in plain sight.” 

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