House passes conservation easement tax break

By Sarah Gonzalez

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, July 17, 2014 - The. House of Representatives passed a bill today that provides tax breaks for charitable giving, including an enhanced tax incentive for conservation of farmland and other open areas.

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The Land Trust Alliance said H.R. 4719, which permanently extends several charitable deductions, would prompt more landowners to donate land for conservation. 

“Getting the easement incentive back into force will mean the conservation of hundreds of thousands more acres each year,” Rand Wentworth, president of the Land Trust Alliance said in a news release. “Conservation easement donations by landowners have increased to 1 million acres per year - a 30 percent increase - since the enhanced incentive first passed in 2006.” 

Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Dave Camp, R-Mich., said the bill will make the deduction for contributions of conservation easements permanent and increase the amount of land or property donated for charitable use. 

The tax incentive has expired several times since it was first enacted into law. “This has made it increasingly difficult to convince would-be donors to make large land donations, which can be not only time consuming but costly for landowners,” according to the Land Trust Alliance. 

The Nature Conservancy, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Farmland Trust, Ducks Unlimited, National Rifle Association, and National Audubon Society are among the national organizations supporting the legislation.

However, Democrats say the bill would add too much to the federal deficit over the next 10 years. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee, said the bill is “totally inconsistent” with the Republican tax reform plan. A similar Senate bill, S. 526, currently has 25 cosponsors. 

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