Michael Jackson: Ray Mickshaw/WireImage.com
Gary Susman
October 01, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Just because Michael Jackson has a zoo on his property doesn’t make him a rancher. While the King of Pop does lease most of Neverland to a cattle-ranching operation, the Associated Press reports that he’s agreed to stop declaring about 70 acres of his property as an agricultural preserve — the land that includes his house, the zoo, his amusement park rides, a three-car garage, the go-cart track, and other developed acreage. As a result, he’ll lose a tax break meant for ranchers that’s saved him $70,000 a year.

Jackson’s change in tax status comes five months after Santa Barbara County conducted an investigation of Neverland and determined that Jackson had built on some of the so-called agricultural preserve without filing proper permits over the course of the last 10 years. Though his property taxes will now rise from $130,000 to $200,000 a year, he could still face legal action to collect back taxes and fines for the permit and zoning violations, AP reports.

This weekend, Jackson is hosting a gala charity benefit dinner at Neverland for 500 guests, who’ve paid $5,000 per couple for the privilege of dining with the singer. He’s pocketing $1 million of the proceeds himself, citing the expenses of staging the event. Still, maybe he can pass the hat to help defray his new tax bill as well.

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