Conservation Tax Law Update

We all spent a great deal of time hearing about the “fiscal cliff” at the end of last year before the Taxpayer Relief Act was signed into law by the President. What perhaps fewer people know is that the deal also renewed key tax incentives for private landowners, particularly farmers and ranchers, who protect their land with a voluntary conservation agreement. Landowners now have until December 31, 2013 to take advantage of the significant federal income tax deductions that can result from donated conservation easements. These enhanced incentives include an increase in the percent of a person’s income that can be deducted from 30% to 50% for many landowners, and 100% of income for farmers and ranchers. Importantly the incentive also extends the number of years that the deduction can be spread over from 6 to 16 years which allows the benefits to be utilized be far more potential grantors. Forbes Magazine recently published a very informative article on the subject, as well as some of the remaining challenges:

“Conservation easements have been a powerful tool to protect land from development, and conservationists are lauding the new tax law for extending enhanced federal tax breaks for donating land development rights through 2013 (and retroactively back to Jan. 1, 2012). That’s good news for land trusts which say that the enhanced incentives have helped farmers, ranchers and other modest-income landowners increase the pace of conservation by a third to over 1 million acres a year.” (Ashlea Ebling, Forbes Staff, 1/15/13)

Over the years Eastern Sierra Land Trust has been very happy to work with a number of landowners in the region who have donated conservation easements on their important lands, ranging from rustic Sierra family getaways, small working farms, critical migratory pathways, to the unique wind shaped dunes of the eastern Mono Basin.

More information about the conservation tax incentive can be found on the Land Trust Alliance web site. If you have been waiting for the right opportunity to discuss a possible project on your land with ESLT, feel free to get in touch with us to learn more.