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Jackson Said Not to Qualify for Tax Break

Michael Jackson may not be able to beat it when it comes to the tax man.

County officials have decided Jackson doesn’t qualify for an agricultural preservation tax break on his Neverland Ranch.

The 2002-03 assessed value of Neverland Ranch is $12,292,618, resulting in taxes this year of approximately $13,000, according to the Santa Barbara County Assessor’s Office.

Jackson receives a legal tax break because he leases land to a cattle rancher. Without the tax break, the assessed value of the property could be nearly 50 percent higher.

Under a state law, property owners are taxed at a lower rate in exchange for keeping their land in agricultural use. To qualify, Jackson can develop only two acres of his approximately 2,700-acre property for nonagricultural use.

But Jackson’s Neverland Ranch has 37 acres dedicated to nonagricultural use, including a 7.1-acre amusement park complex, said supervising county planner Larry Appel, who visited the Santa Ynez Valley ranch earlier this month with Agricultural Commissioner Bill Gillette.

A review of Jackson’s property report has been set for May 2. In the meantime, Jackson’s staff has started a process that could keep his taxes from increasing significantly.

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