Nantucket has been the beneficiary of the generosity of many unheralded people who had the foresight to protect their property with a conservation easement. There are many ways such an easement occurs, from protecting the facade of an historical structure to establishing limited areas for future building. For property owners, donating a conservation easement is a way to protect places that they love. When landowners donate a conservation easement, they give up part of the value of their property — often their family’s biggest asset. Tax incentives offset some of that loss in property value, making conservation a viable option for more owners. The federal government recently expanded the time period for realizing the deduction from 5 to 15 years. This has the potential for a significant, and more flexible, benefit to donors. If you own property with important natural or historic resources, donating a voluntary conservation easement (also called conservation agreement) can be one of the smartest ways to conserve the land you love, while maintaining your private property rights and possibly realizing significant federal tax benefits. The conservation tax incentive:
– Raises the deduction a donor can take for donating a conservation easement from 30 percent of his or her income in any year to 50 percent;
– Allows qualifying farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100 percent of their income; and
– Extends the carry-forward period for a donor to take tax deductions for a voluntary conservation agreement from 5 to 15 years.
– These changes apply to donations made at any time in 2015 and to all donations made after that. This is a powerful tool for allowing modest-income donors to receive greater credit for donating a very valuable conservation easement on property they own.
On Nantucket, the Nantucket Land Council and the Nantucket Preservation Trust are two groups which hold such easements. We encourage you to reach out to either if you wish more information.