Generous landowners who donate voluntary conservation easements to the Upper Valley Land Trust are inspired by many things: they love living in the Upper Valley, they feel connected to their land, they notice development pressure and the impacts this can have on communities, and they wish to leave a legacy for future generations. This inspiration is central to our work to help landowners permanently protect valuable natural resources; yet, for all conservation easement donors, donating a conservation easement is a major financial decision. The federal income tax deduction that comes with a donation helps make easements possible for many landowners in our community.
Congress recently renewed an income tax incentive that enables family farmers, ranchers, and other moderate-income landowners to utilize more of the significant tax benefit for donating a conservation easement on their land. The legislation allows conservation easement donors to:
- Deduct up to 50% of their adjusted gross income in any year (up from 30%); or
- Deduct up to 100% of their adjusted gross income if the majority of that income came from farming, ranching or forestry; and
- Continue to take deductions for as long as 16 years (up from 6 years).
This valuable conservation tool was first enacted in 2006. In that time the Upper Valley Land Trust has worked with willing landowners to protect over 9,620 acres. Landowners who donate conservation easements, or sell easements at discounted price (often called a “bargain sale”) in 2010 or 2011 can now enjoy these increased benefits, but unless Congress acts again, this enhanced incentive will be scaled back after December 31, 2011.
For more information on these updates to the tax law, please download the 2010 Tax Incentive Update. To learn more about the initiative to make these conservation tax incentives permanent, you can also visit www.lta.org/easementincentive.