Floyd Co GA Ag and Farmland cotton field _CCDue to gridlock in Congress, the enhanced conservation tax incentive was allowed to expire on December 31.  Since 2006, the incentive has helped protect more than 12 million acres of forests, urban parks and farmland. Approximately 230,000 acres of those 12 million have come from the work of the Alabama Land Trust, the Georgia Land Trust, and the Chattahoochee Valley Land Trust.

Starting January 1, landowners will still be able to take a deduction for donating easements, but will not be able to use the enhanced provisions.  The cap on the adjusted gross income goes back to 30% from the old enhanced amount of 50 percent. The carry over time for the deduction was also rolled back to 6 years from fifteen. The enhanced deduction has expired three times since 2006, and each time land donations have dropped. This on-again off-again nature of the incentive has made it difficult for land owners to make a decision about donating an easement. This situation is why some lawmakers are working to make the enhanced deduction permanent.

Leaders of  the Senate Finance Committee, Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced legislation in March to keep the tax incentives permanent with S 526, the Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act. The House of Representatives companion bill is HR 2807. This bill was introduced by Congressmen Jim Gerlach (R-Penn) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and boasts 162 co-sponsors. More than 65 national groups are also supporting the bill. They range from the National Rifle Association to the Environmental Defense Fund.

Let your senator and congressman know how you feel about the enhanced tax incentive call the switchboard at 202-224-3121.