WASHINGTON – U.S. Reps. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., and Dave Camp, R-Mich., introduced a bill to help landowners conserve agricultural land and open spaces.
Permanent. The bill would permanently extend a tax incentive for farmers and ranchers who donate their land’s development rights to local land trusts, creating a conservation easement.
The currently available tax deduction for conservation easements, which expires at the end of the year, has been successful at encouraging landowners to preserve their land’s agricultural purpose rather than sell it to developers.
“America’s agricultural lands and open spaces are being swallowed up by development at an alarming rate,” said Thompson.
“Conservation easements are slowing that trend, but it can take time for landowners to implement them. By making this law permanent, we are ensuring a consistent and stable tax policy for landowners who protect their property from development.”
How it works. The conservation easement tax provision encourages landowners to protect their land from development by giving them a tax deduction equal to the land’s development value.
Once placed under a conservation easement, the land cannot be developed at any time in the future, even if the land is sold. However, the landowner and all future owners can continue to farm the land.
Specifically, the provision provides a tax deduction equal to the land’s development value up to 50 percent of the land donor’s income for all individuals except ranchers and farmers, who are capped at 100 percent of the donor’s income.
The deduction can be carried forward for 15 years.
Support. Thompson and Camp’s bill has received strong support from the Land Trust Alliance, National Cattleman’s Beef Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and more than 40 other leading groups.
The bill has 22 original co-sponsors, including Jim Gerlach, R-Pa., and Patrick Murphy, D-Pa.
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