A bill making permanent the enhanced tax incentives for conservation easements is one step closer to becoming a law. On Thursday, July 17th, the House passed H.R. 4719, The America Gives More Act of 2014, which is a charity package that, among many good causes, includes the Conservation Easement Incentive Act, HR 2807.
The enhanced incentive has been a win-win solution for private landowners who want to protect natural resources important to our communities. This new face of conservation permits landowners to set aside land for future generations and ensures that the wildlife habitat, scenic beauty and open space they provide benefit our communities far into the future.
This bill will allow landowners to take advantage of a significant tax deduction for donating a voluntary conservation agreement to permanently protect important natural or historic resources on their land. When landowners donate a conservation easement to the Alabama, Georgia or Chattowah Open Land Trust, they maintain ownership and management of their land and can sell or pass the land on to their heirs, while foregoing future development rights.
The enhanced incentive applies to a landowner’s federal income tax. The bill changes the donation tax deduction in the following ways:
- Raises the deduction a donor can take for donating a voluntary conservation agreement from 30% of their income in any year to 50%;
- Allows farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100% of their income; and
- Increases the number of years over which a donor can take deductions from 6 to 16 years.
“Our whole community wins when thoughtful landowners conserve their land this way. Conservation Easements protect wildlife habitat, provide clean drinking water, create recreational spaces, and preserve working farms and ranches,” said Land Trust Executive Director, Katherine Eddins.
” The Alabama Land Trust, Georgia Land Trust and The Chattowah Open Land Trust join America’s 1,700 land trusts and their two million supporters in thanking our members of Congress for making this important conservation tool available,” she said.
According to the Land Trust Alliance, the national organization that provides a voice for land trusts in Washington, DC, this year represents a unique opportunity for Congress to make a final push to get this legislation over the finish line. With the spotlight now shining on the Senate, it is important to make every effort possible to make the incentive permanent once and for all.
To learn more about the enhanced incentive visit: www.lta.org/easementincentive.