Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act

January 23, 2023
Conservation News

When deciding to conserve land there are a range of options available to landowners. One important tool is a conservation easement, a voluntary, perpetual agreement between a landowner and a qualified conservation organization, such as the Trust, that restricts the use of the land in order to protect the conservation values of the land. Such values are described in 170(h) of the Internal Revenue Code and include the protection of open space, scenic vistas, historic structures, farmland, endangered flora and fauna, and more.

Since 1979, donations of conservation easements have been eligible for federal tax deductions based on the difference between the fair market value of the property before and after the donation of the conservation easement as determined by a qualified appraiser. According to the National Conservation Easement Database, over 201,525 easements have been donated protecting 33,527,688 acres.

Unfortunately, there has been some abuse of these tax deductions through inflated land appraisals in transactions known as “syndications.” This abuse will now be curbed thanks to the government spending bill signed into law on December 29, 2022. Included in the law was the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act. This targeted legislation will help to protect the integrity of conservations easements and the tax incentive that has helped thousands of Americans voluntarily conserve millions of acres of their own land.

Interested in learning more about your conservation options? Contact Kim Quarty, Director of Conservation Planning.

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