Enhanced Easement Incentive Renewed Through 2011
Generous landowners who donate voluntary conservation easements to the Tall Timbers Land Conservancy are inspired by many things: they love the rural character of the region, they feel connected to their land, and they wish to leave a legacy for future generations. This inspiration is central to our work to permanently protect valuable natural resources. But for almost all of our donors, donating a conservation easement is a major financial decision, and the federal income tax deduction that comes with a donation helps make easements possible for landowners in our community.
Thanks in part to the hard work of the Congressional delegation representing the interests of southwest Georgia and north Florida, Congress recently renewed a 2006 incentive that enables family farmers, forest land owners, and other property owners to get a significant tax benefit for donating a conservation easement on their land. The legislation allows easement donors to:
- Deduct up to 50% of their adjusted gross income in any year (up from 30%);
- 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 (previously 6 years).
This invaluable conservation tool has helped Tall Timbers work with willing landowners to protect over 44,000 acres since it was first enacted in 2006. Landowners who act quickly to conserve their land can now enjoy these benefits, but they’re currently set to expire December 31, 2011.
Lapses in the enhanced incentive hamper our strategic conservation efforts and are frustrating for landowners. That’s why Tall Timbers is working with the Land Trust Alliance and other conservation organizations to enact legislation to make the enhanced incentive permanent. Bills are currently before Congress to do just that. Tall Timbers Land Conservancy Director Kevin McGorty said, “We are all extremely pleased that Senators Chambliss and Isakson of Georgia co-sponsored S. 812 last year. They know how important it is to conserve open space, productive agricultural lands, historic landscapes, and buffers to our drinking water supplies in our region. The enhanced incentive is an essential conservation tool at a time when land conservation needs all the resources it can muster.”