Supporters of a generous federal tax deduction for landowners who, in essence, donate property for conservation or preservation are trying to persuade Congress to make the tax break permanent. First, though, they have to get it back on the books; it expired at the end of 2013.
These conservation, wildlife and agriculture groups had some allies on the Senate Finance Committee, but its members approved only a two-year renewal of the “enhanced” conservation easement deduction. They are hoping for better results from the House Ways and Means Committee, where ChairmanDave Camp, R-Mich., appears to be for the tax break, since he proposed to make it permanent in the tax platform he released in February.
The tax break applies to those who grant a government agency or a nonprofit such as a land trust a conservation or preservation easement for a piece of property. With the easement, the owner gives up the right to develop the land in the future, in return for a tax deduction for the lost market value of the land. The owner retains the title, though.
Backers of the tax break say that tax deductions for conservation easements have protected rural land from suburban and city sprawl and provided habitat for wildlife.
“Having that tax provision,” Dale Moore, policy director for the American Farm Bureau Federation, said, “is basically an incentive for farmers and ranchers to invest in a conservation practice that is going to have the co-benefit of helping to improve production on the land in all the ways that conservation does and at the same time there is a public good to it.” Continue reading….