The Lookout Mountain Conservancy is a member of the Land Trust Alliance (LTA), the national body of land trusts that unites and champions organizations in local communities working to save natural areas and connect people to the land.
We periodically participate in policy work with LTA to improve land protection funding and the tax code benefits so that more landowners can consider conserving their land instead of selling it.
An example of this policy work is the Federal Conservation Tax Deduction.
One of the most important incentives is the federal conservation tax deduction, which allows landowners to deduct all or part of the value of a donated easement from their taxable income. In 2015, Congress made permanent the federal tax incentive for conservation easement donations, helping thousands of landowners conserve their land.
If you own land with important natural or historic resources, donating a voluntary conservation easement (also called conservation agreement) can be one of the smartest ways to conserve the land you love, while maintaining your private property rights and possibly realizing significant federal tax benefits. The conservation tax incentive:
- Raises the deduction a donor can take for donating a conservation easement from 30 percent of his or her income in any year to 50 percent;
- 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 agreement 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.