Finally, after months of waiting, Congress extended
the enhanced income tax deductions for conservation easement donations made
through the end of 2011. The rules
are the same rules that have been in effect for the past few years. That is, a landowner who donates a
conservation easement before the end of this year can take the deduction for
the donation up to 50% of adjusted gross income, with a 15-year carryforward of
any unused amount. Many landowners
who are actively in the farming, ranching, or forestry business can take the
deduction up to 100% of adjusted gross income, with a 15-year carryforward.
rules are all discussed in great detail in Preserving
Family Lands: Book I.
is possible that Congress will extend the incentives after 2011, and it is also
possible Congress will make the incentives permanent. The Land Trust Alliance, at www.landtrustalliance.org, has led
the fight for the incentives over the years and is now working hard to make the
incentives permanent. But is also
possible, of course, that the enhanced incentives will expire at the end of
this year, in which case we will revert to the deduction rules that were in
place under prior law. See Preserving Family Lands: Book I for a longer discussion of
I have said to many landowners many times, if you want to be certain to take
advantage of the enhanced incentives, you should plan to complete your donation
this year, and you need to get started now!