Landowners get tax cut for conservation
Congress just passed a new tax law that helps all of us interested in protecting clean water, natural areas and family farms. The law enhances the federal tax benefits for landowners who donate voluntary conservation agreements. These agreements can provide a win-win solution for protecting resources important to our community while keeping land in productive private ownership.What Congress just did makes the tax law work much better for many modest-income landowners who, under the old rules, only got credit for a small portion of the value of their donation. Now, conservation donors can deduct up to 50 percent of their adjusted gross income in any year (up from 30 percent), and, if most of their income is from farming, ranching or forestry, they can deduct all of their income. Even more important is that if the value of their donation is larger than this, they can continue to use the deduction for up to 16 years (up from six). These agreements, often referred to as conservation easements, are donations of a landowner’s development rights to land, to protect specific natural, scenic or historic resources. Landowners continue to own and manage their land, and continue to pay local taxes. The public gets protection of resources that are an important heritage for our community.The Eagle Valley Land Trust has been accepting donations like this for 24 years, and has helped to protect more than 9,000 acres in Eagle County and surrounding areas. This change in the law will enable us to help many more landowners to protect resources for our children and for our community’s future.The people of Eagle County believe in protecting our family farms, ranches, forests, and wildlife habitat – part of the traditions that make this a great place to live. Thanks to a helping hand from Congress, we will be able to do even more of this in the next several years.Cindy Cohagen is Executive Director of Eagle Valley Land Trust.Vail, Colorado
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