After a yearlong lapse that left many important conservation donations in limbo, Congress renewed an enhanced tax incentive for easements that increased private land conservation to more than 1 million acres per year. Renewed a week before Christmas, the incentive will be in effect through Dec. 31, 2011, and retroactive to Jan. 1, 2010. That gives a full year to work on getting landowners to donate easements to this program.
By helping landowners deduct the full value of their contributions, this easement incentive allows for an increased pace of private, voluntary land conservation. Such programs are especially important since America loses land to development at a rate of 1.5 million acres per year. Game species like whitetail deer and turkeys that often rely on wildlife habitat on private lands, especially in the eastern half of the United States, will greatly benefit from this renewed effort to encourage landowners to conserve lands.
A broad coalition of sportsmen, outdoors enthusiasts, farmers, ranchers and national conservation groups, including the Land Trust Alliance and the TRCP, worked together to renew the incentive and will push to make it permanent in the 112th Congress.
The enhanced incentive, which applies to a landowner’s federal income tax, includes the following incentives:
• Raises from 30 percent of their income in any year to 50 percent the deduction landowners can take for donating voluntary conservation agreements;
• Allows farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100 percent of their incomes; and
• Increases the number of years over which a donor can take deductions from six to 16.
Landowners interested in conserving their land under this provision should contact a land trust in their community.