Source: Forbes (June 4, 2019) – In 1980, Congress enacted a law that provided land owners a tax break if they donate a conservation easement. The idea is simple: If someone owns land in some sort of environmentally sensitive area and they forswear developing that land, they can—after donating the easement to a qualified land trust—deduct the reduced value of their land from their income.
In the years since the law was passed, the amount of land protected by conservation has increased significantly. Today, it is estimated that more than 27 million acres are protected under a conservation easement.
But conservation easement donations are unpopular with the IRS, which has been taking taxpayers to court for allegedly inflating property valuations in order to claim outsize charitable deductions. However, in federal Tax Court cases where judges determined the value of a conservation easement, the courts have generally landed closer to the taxpayer-provided value, raising important questions about the agency’s approach. The solution, I argue, is for Congress to enact meaningful reform.
To continue reading the full article by Ike Brannon, click here: Forbes