Enhanced tax deductions for conservation easements

Published 9:08 am Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Part of the Green River watershed. (photo submitted)

Congress has passed a fiscal cliff deal that renews the enhanced income tax deduction for conservation easements through 2013.

The law contains expanded tax incentives that increase financial benefits for landowners who wish to preserve their farms, forests or natural areas by donating a voluntary conservation easement, or agreement, on their land.

The renewed law raises the deduction a landowner can take for donating a conservation easement from 30 percent of their adjusted gross income to 50 percent. Qualifying farmers and ranchers can deduct up to 100 percent of their adjusted gross income. The law also increases the number of years over which a landowner can take those deductions from 5 to 15 years. These changes present a tremendous financial and preservation opportunity for landowners.

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“The process of land conservation may take many months or longer,” said Pam Torlina, Pacolet Area Conservancy’s Land Protection Specialist. “As of now, these enhanced tax incentives are only secured until December 31, 2013. So, even though we’re only a few days into the New Year, now is the time to begin planning for land preservation in 2013. There is a lot of work that will need to be done to ensure that a conservation easement can be finalized by the end of the year so that landowners can take advantage of the tax incentives.”

The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) is a qualified conservation organization that works with landowners to ensure the long-term protection of their land through voluntary conservation easements.