By David Migoya | The Denver Post
Rocky Ford hay farmer Timothy Crow despises staring at bankruptcy. The 61-year-old says he hates it even more that Colorado put him there. “This was supposed to be a good thing for everyone,” Crow says of the state’s conservation easement program, where land-rich but cash-poor ranchers and farmers like him can preserve their property forever in return for needed income. “It’s become a living nightmare,” he said.
Crow and thousands of others like him preserved millions of acres of land in return for state income-tax credits they could either sell for cash or use to pay their own income tax bill.
Now, the state is forcing a handful of those landowners — and hundreds of people who bought those credits — to pay as much as $220 million in back taxes because the state says the land isn’t worth what the landowners claimed.