Photograph Courtesy of Brendan Wiltse

In December 2015, Congress made permanent the enhanced federal tax incentive for conservation easement donations. If you own land with important natural resources that qualifies for a conservation easement, donating a conservation easement to a land trust like the Lake Placid Land Conservancy may allow you to deduct all or part of the value of a qualified conservation easement from your federal taxable income. The enhanced incentives recently passed by Congress and made permanent:

  • Raises the deduction a donor can take for donating a conservation easement from 30percent of his or her income in any year to 50 percent; and
  • allows qualifying farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100 percent of their income; and
  • Extends the carry-forward period for a donor to take tax deductions for a voluntary conservation easement from 5 to 15 years.

These changes apply to donations made at any time in 2015 and to all donations made after that. This is a powerful tool for allowing modest-income donors to receive greater credit for donating a very valuable conservation easement on property they own. For land trusts, this translates to the possibility of protecting much more land through the use of conservation easements.