Land Trusts Offer Great Tax Breaks

According to the WSJ, Landowners Rush to Take Advantage of New Law That Boosts Deductions for Blocking Development.

Here’s how it works: A landowner typically donates a conservation easement to a land trust, a type of non-profit organization that helps put together the easement and monitors its restrictions over time. The value of the donation for income-tax purposes generally is the difference between the land’s unrestricted value and its new value with limited development or usage rights.

Landowners can now deduct the value of a donation up to 50% of their adjusted gross income per year, up from the previous ceiling of 30%. That means if your adjusted gross income is $100,000, you are now eligible for as much as a $50,000 tax deduction a year, instead of $30,000. And if your income is too low to deduct the full amount of your gift in one year, you can now carry forward the deduction for 15 additional years, up from five years previously.

The law is even more generous for career farmers and ranchers who earn at least half their income from their land. These property owners, who are often land-rich, but cash-poor, can now deduct up to 100% of their income. “If you’re a farmer you could pay no federal income taxes for 16 years,” says Rand Wentworth, president of the Land Trust Alliance, a coalition of 1,600 land trusts across the country.

So if you’re one of the lucky rich people who can afford to buy land out in the wilderness for horse riding or camping or whatever, you can now write it off. All you need to do to promise not to build on it. Now thats a neat tax deduction.

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