Congress Renews Tax Incentive for Private Landowners

One of Congress’ last acts of the 2010 session was renewal of a tax incentive to encourage private landowners (including working family farms) to protect their land with a voluntary conservation easement. The goal is to encourage landowners to help protect natural or historic resources on their property. The incentive provides a dual benefit: land conservation that keeps the land in private hands and keeps it on the Philipstown tax roll.
       The incentive is applied to the landowner’s federal income tax and includes three principal parts. It increases the possible deduction (for voluntary land conservation) from 30 percent of their income (in any year) to 50 percent. It allows farmers to deduct up to 100 percent of their income and increases from 6 to 16 the number of years this deduction can be taken.
       Hudson Highlands Land Trust (HHLT) Executive Director Andy Chmar, commenting on the renewal, said “Our whole community wins when landowners conserve their land this way, protecting clean drinking water, scenic landscapes, recreational spaces, wildlife habitat and productive agricultural lands.” The HHLT works with local landowners to develop conservations strategies. Chmar also said, “. . . with the extension of these  . . . tax benefits, Congress has taken a big step forward in preserving this region [the Hudson Highlands] and the character of our local communities.” Application for this deduction can be made until Dec. 31, 2011.

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