The PJ Tatler

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) Uses Greenbelt Law to Avoid Paying His 'Fair Share' of Taxes

The next Democrat to call for higher taxes on anyone deserves nothing but scorn and mockery. They insistently call for more taxes, but take advantage of various laws to avoid having pay taxes themselves. Tim Geithner, Media Matters, Bill Nelson…there’s a pattern here.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has been many things over the years. State legislator. Congressman. Astronaut. Insurance commissioner.

In Brevard County, he is a gentleman farmer.

Thanks to a half-dozen cows that graze Nelson’s 55 acres on the Indian River, he saved $43,000 in property taxes last year.

Nelson does not live there or own the cows. He leases the land, at no cost, to a cattle operation. Nelson says he gets to preserve undeveloped land while providing for a waning industry.

Yet the small herd has saved Nelson big taxes. The land has a full market value of $2.7 million, but the county tax collector uses the agricultural value of $210,000. That reduced Nelson’s tax bill in 2011 to $3,696.

Let’s call this what it is: A tax shelter. It’s a legal way to avoid paying that “fair share” of taxes that the president, who belongs to Nelson’s own party, hectors the wealthy to pay.

There’s nothing illegal about this, but no one should be fooled that half a dozen cows on 55 acres is a true “operation.” It’s a dodge, and Nelson takes advantage of it in more ways than one:

When Nelson has sold parts of the agriculture land, he did so at full market value. In some states he would have had to return part of the tax break. Not in Florida, which has one of the country’s most generous agricultural classifications.

He says he wants to leave the land to his family. Good for him. Some of us would like to leave a free and viable country to our kids. Nelson’s party seems to be doing everything possible to make sure that we can’t.