Land Conservation Tax Incentive renewed for 2013
The Maryland Environmental Trust (MET) encourages private landowners and working farmers looking to protect their land through conservation easements to act now to take advantage of significant tax deductions. Congress recently renewed the conservation tax incentive which will expire at the end of the year.
“Voluntary land conservation is a cost effective alternative to protect the State’s wildlife habitat, scenic landscapes and productive agricultural lands,” said MET Director Liz Buxton. “We encourage interested landowners to contact us now if they are thinking about protecting their land with an easement, as we anticipate a very busy year and want to be able to assist everyone motivated by this window of opportunity. Congress may not extend this enhanced tax incentive again.”
The original incentive ─ which expired at the end of 2011─ made it possible for MET to successfully conserve 17,195 acres of productive agricultural lands and scenic natural areas between 2006 and 2011 by working with generous landowners.
Landowners who wish to voluntarily protect important natural or historic resources must ensure the easement is established by December 31, 2013 to take advantage of the deductions.
The enhanced incentive, which applies to a landowner’s federal income tax:
- Raises the deduction a donor can take for donating a voluntary conservation agreement from 30% of their income in any year to 50%;
- Allows farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100% of their income; and
- Increases the number of years over which a donor can take deductions from 6 to 16 years.
When a landowner donates a conservation easement to MET, they forego future development rights but retain ownership and management of their land. They can sell or pass the land on to their heirs. The incentive makes it more economically feasible for farmers and landowners of modest means to conserve their land and keep it in agricultural production. Voluntary conservation easements protect working farms and also make it easier for families to leave the land to the next generation.
For more on the Maryland Environmental Trust, visit dnr.maryland.gov/met.