Terraqua - Land Investment

The Land Investor

News and Commentary on Land-based Investment

H.R. 1831 Will Continue Conservation Momentum with Landowner Incentives

Conservation easements are market based incentives to landowners who permanently retire development rights to protect significant natural resources.  Presently landowners who donate a conservation easement are allowed to deduct the fair market value of the easement from taxable adjustable gross income, which deductions are subject to a cap at 50% of income, except farmers and ranchers are able to claim 100%; utilized over a carry forward of 15 years.

The deduction is set to expire at the end of 2011, which if allowed to run out, would negatively impact pipeline of wildlife habitat and scenic open space that has been established.  The artificial 2011 deadline will cause landowners, who otherwise would potentially consider a perpetual commitment of their land, to forego this conservation process, which can take years from inception to completion.  Without the continued enhanced easement incentive, a rancher earning $50,000 per year who donates a conservation easement worth $1 million could benefit from up to $90,000 in deductions.  Under the enhanced incentive, the same landowner could take up to $800,000 in deductions.

Fortunately there is strong bipartisan legislative support to continue enhanced easement incentives beyond 2011 and permanently through the Conservation Easement Incentive Act (H.R. 1831).  This creates market incentives via private property estate and land planning means to provide resources and benefits from these private lands for public benefit by way of ecosystem services, open space and wildlife habitat.

Read more:  www.landtrustalliance.org/easementincentive

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