Permanent Conservation Easement Incentives

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Congressmen Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and Eric Cantor (R-Va.) have introduced the Conservation Easement Incentive Act, H.R. 1831.  The bill would make  permanent an incentive that allows modest-income landowners to receive significant tax deductions for donating conservation easements that permanently protect natural or historic resources on their lands.

 Specifically, the enhanced tax incentive allows working family ranchers and farmers, to deduct up to 100 percent of their income for as many as 16 years in order to deduct their gift's full value.  First passed in 2006 and extended in the 2008 Farm Bill, this incentive is set to expire on Dec. 31 of this year. 

“We’ve seen a 50 percent increase in the number of conservation easement donations since Congress passed my provisions to enhance these tax benefits on a temporary basis in 2006,” says Thompson.  “If current development trends continue in California, another 2 million acres will be paved over by 2050.  It’s time we made these protections permanent.  By making sure that landowners can count on these enhanced tax benefits, we’ll take a big step forward in preserving our agricultural lands and keeping our environment safe from over development.”

 Thompson and Cantor are members of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over all federal tax measures.

“I have seen firsthand how conservation easements are being used by family farms in my district.  Providing a permanent tax incentive for conservation easements is a great way to encourage conservation efforts while also reducing the tax burden on these hard working families,” says Cantor, House Republican whip.

When landowners donate a conservation easement, they maintain ownership and management of their land and can pass the land on to their heirs, while foregoing their rights to develop the land in the future.   Thompson and Cantor anticipate that their bill will help more families afford to conserve their land.

The bill has received broad support from a national coalition of farmers, ranchers, conservationists, outdoor recreation and sportsmen’s groups and government officials. So far, 93 House Representatives  have signed on as original co-sponsors of the bill.   

 Source: Land Trust Alliance

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