Congress took a step toward further protecting U.S. lands by passing legislation creating new tax benefits for family farmers and ranchers.
The new law increases the period over which taxpayers can carry forward deductions for conservation easements to 15 years from five years.
It also raises the cap on deductions to 50 percent from 30 percent of the donor’s adjusted gross income, and to 100 percent for qualified landowners.
Together, these changes provide farmers and ranchers with incentives to donate their land for conservation purposes, thereby giving up their rights to develop the land in the future, says the Land Trust Alliance.
The legislation also tightens the rules governing land appraisals to guard against inflated valuations, and the IRS is increasing its oversight of land conservation donations to prevent abuses.
“Congress, the IRS and the private-sector have all taken decisive action,” Rand Wentworth, president of the alliance, said in a statement. “This three-pronged approach will solidify and build public confidence in the private land conservation system.”