Great News from Washington DC: Conservation Tax Incentive Now Permanent!

You’ve likely heard about the new budget and tax compromise bill that Congress passed in the final days of 2015. This massive piece of legislation funds every Cabinet agency through September 2016 AND provides a comprehensive tax package that deals with a slew of important topics, from Big Oil to small business, cybersecurity, refugees, education, and much, much more. And largely overlooked by the media was one of the most exciting victories of all — one for landowners, land trusts, and charities nationwide.

Mr. Lacey on Horseback in Bridgeport ValleyThis legislation made permanent the tax incentive for ranchers, farmers, and all landowners who place a conservation easement on their land to protect its natural resources forever. This will encourage even more individuals to preserve their land in perpetuity.

Mary Pope Hutson of the Land Trust Alliance calls this, “the most important conservation legislation in 20 years. The strong bi-partisan support also showcases our national commitment to natural lands and the preservation of open spaces.”

First enacted as a temporary provision in 2006, the incentive is directly responsible for conserving millions of acres that could otherwise have been lost to development. The Land Trust Alliance has been working for over a decade to ensure the permanence of this provision, lobbying year after year to have it extended. Now with it written into law, conservation easements will always be a reliable and affordable tool for anyone who wants to safeguard the values of their property for future generations.

Unsure about what a conservation easement means? Click Here to read an article explaining how this method of private land protection works, and visit our website for more information and FAQs.

MORE good news: this budget deal also made the IRA charitable rollover permanent! This means that individuals age 70 ½ and older can donate up to $100,000 annually to nonprofits straight from their IRA, without it being treated as taxable income. Studies have shown that giving directly through your IRA is one of the most tax-beneficial means of philanthropy, and the benefits are substantial:

  • Your donation may be excluded from your gross income, helping you reduce your taxable income.
  • If you must take minimum IRA distributions, but do not need the additional income, your donation can be used to satisfy your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD). All individuals who reach the age of 70 ½ have to fulfill such a RMD each year, calculated according to a federal formula.
  • If your IRA is “overfunded,” your charitable gift is a tax-free way to both reduce your IRA balance as well as the amount of your yearly RMD.

Please talk to your plan administrator for more information about how the IRA charitable rollover can work for you. If you are interested in making a donation to ESLT through your IRA, please contact Kay Ogden, Executive Director, at kay@eslt.org.

Our sincere thanks goes to the Land Trust Alliance‘s public policy team, who led the way in getting these provisions signed into law, as well as to all who contacted their congressmen and women to inform them how important these issues are to our conservation community. Your voice has been heard, and will now continue have an impact on our treasured landscapes for generations.

To learn more about the Conservation Tax Incentive, Click Here >>

ESLT uses Conservation Easements as a critical tool to allow us to preserve the wild and working lands you love. Photo © Stephen Ingram

Conservation easements are a critical tool that Eastern Sierra Land Trust uses to preserve the wild and working lands you love forever. Photo © Stephen Ingram

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