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Enhanced Federal Tax Incentives for Land Conservation Made Permanent

Over the last several years, we have seen enhanced federal conservation tax incentives come and go, which makes it difficult for landowners and land trusts to plan for. Fortunately, Congress recently made these incentives permanent, marking a significant accomplishment for conservation across the country.

The federal conservation tax deduction allows landowners to deduct all or part of the value of a donated easement, known as a conservation restriction in Massachusetts, from their taxable income.

If you own land with important natural or historic resources, donating a voluntary conservation restriction (also called conservation agreement) can be one of the most effective ways of conserving 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 restriction 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 restriction 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 restriction on property they own.

You can learn more about how these incentives work as well as other conservation options at our free 
Introduction to Estate Planning and Land Conservation workshop on March 2nd in Whately.  You may also download the "Using the Conservation Tax Incentive" brochure or contact our land conservation specialists at 413.625.9151 for more information.

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