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February 1, 2016

New Tax Incentive for Conservation Easements

In a triumphant victory for wildlife, threatened habitat, and conservation-minded landowners across the nation, the enhanced federal income tax incentive for conservation easement donations has been made permanent. President Barack Obama signed it into law on December 18, 2015.

The law provides additional tax benefits for landowners to place a conservation easement – voluntary agreements between land owners and land trusts that permanently limit uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values – on their land to protect important natural, scenic and historic resources.

The incentive, considered to be the most important conservation legislation in 20 years, will broaden the appeal of conservation easements to a larger spectrum of landowners.

The conservation easement tax incentive benefit:

  • Raises the tax deduction most donors can take for donating a conservation easement from 30 percent of his or her adjusted gross income in any year to 50 percent. Qualified farmers and ranchers can also deduct up to 100 percent of their income.
  • Extends the carry-forward period for that deduction from 5 to 15 years. So an easement donated in 2016 could provide tax benefits for income earned through 2031.

Please visit our Conservation Options for Landowners page to learn more about conserving your land for wildlife.


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