Posted March 25, 2007 06:34 pm

Can they do that?

I've had a few people ask me about the palatial "home" under construction on Magnolia Drive. These people, not being idiots, already realize that this monster house -- like the other palatial houses that have been built near Augusta National Golf Club in recent years -- is really a corporate hospitality venue designed (on the outside, anyway) to look like a home. What they wonder is: How can it be legal to locate a business right in the heart of a residential neighborhood? Well, much like the policy with gays in the military, there's a lot of "don't ask, don't tell" going on. The people building these structures say they are simply houses (nudge, nudge), and county officials (wink, wink) sign off on the permits even though they know in most cases that the only family occupying theses "homes" will be a bunch of paunchy Ralph Lauren-clad corporate types during Masters Week. As long as neighbors -- including Augusta National -- aren't raising a stink about the hospitality homes, there's little reason for county officials to intervene. What I'm curious about is whether the owner/operators of these homes are paying income tax. Current tax laws, in most cases, allow people up to two weeks of tax-free rental income on their homes each year. Considering that these particular houses are clearly business ventures*, there might be some "don't ask, don't tell" going on with the Tax Man as well. --- * If you don't believe me, feel free to check one of these homes out for yourself during Masters Week. It's fairly easy to just wander into one. It helps if you're wearing a golf shirt and acting a little tipsy.