Private landowners – and especially family farmers – will be the beneficiaries of legislation, co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, D-13, to make permanent the federal tax incentive for donations of conservation easements, according to the state’s largest land conservancy.
Rich Cochran, president and CEO of Western Reserve Land Conservancy, applauded the introduction of the landmark tax incentive bill.
The incentive, which is slated to expire at the end of 2011, has helped the Land Conservancy work with willing landowners in the community to conserve more than 15,000 acres of agricultural land and natural areas since it was first enacted in 2006.
The Conservation Easement Incentive Act (H.B. 1964), and its Senate companion, S.B. 339, will aid in the protection of millions of acres of the nation’s agricultural lands and open spaces by making permanent an expiring incentive that allows landowners to receive significant tax savings for donating conservation easements that permanently protect important natural or historic resources on their lands.
“Without this measure, landowners across northern Ohio would not be stepping forward right now to work with us to conserve their land,” Cochran said.
“This legislation will ensure that thousands of acres of land in our area will remain scenic and preserved for generations to come,” Sutton said. “I am proud to stand by the many Ohioans who have advocated for and will benefit from the protection of our land.”
When landowners donate conservation easements to the Land Conservancy, they maintain ownership and management of their land and can pass the land on to their heirs, while foregoing their rights to develop the land in the future. A permanent incentive will help more families afford to save their land, choose conservation over land development, and, by so doing, protect our community’s clean air and water, scenic and historic landscapes, recreational places and wildlife habitat.
The incentive, which applies to a landowner’s federal income tax, will:
- Raise the deduction a donor can take for donating a voluntary conservation easement from 30 percent of their income in any year to 50 percent;
- Allow farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100 percent of their income; and
- Increase the number of years over which a donor can take deductions from six to 16 years.