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.”
- Part 1: Tax relief intended to save Kentucky farms helps pave them instead
- Part 2: 10-acre lawns get benefit meant for working Fayette County farms
- Part 3: Developers get farmland tax break as bulldozers approach
- Part 4: How other states guard against ‘fake farmers’
- Interactive Map: Explore a map of Lexington properties getting farmland tax breaks