Lower Your Taxes Next Year With Conservation Easements

(Conservation Currents, Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District, May 2002)

Landowners in Northern Virginia can save a bundle on taxes next year by being good environmental citizens and donating conservation easements on their properties to land trusts like the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (NVCT).

Conservation easements are the most widely used land protection tool available to landowners to permanently protect their land and still retain ownership. Easements are flexible and easily tailored to meet a landowner’s needs by allowing the landowner to be involved in identifying specific permitted uses of the property such as residential, recreational, agricultural, forestry, and other open space uses. Easements limit certain activities such as development and industrial and commercial uses of the property.

Financial benefits of donating a conservation easement:

  • The donation of a conservation easement to the Trust often qualifies as a charitable contribution, which may entitle the donor to an income tax deduction for the easement value. The value of this type of charitable contribution is based on an assessment of the land value before the conservation easement is in place and then the value afterwards. The difference between the two appraisals is considered the value of the conservation easement.
  • In Virginia, landowners can benefit from a state income tax credit equal to 50% of the value of the easement, capped at $100,000 per year. Income tax benefits, both federal and state, can be carried forward for up to five years.
  • Estate and property tax reductions may also result from the donation. In light of recent increases in property tax assessments, landowners could potentially save significant amounts of money through conservation easements.
  • Conservation easements are designed to conserve the important resource values of each property. An easement may cover portions of a property or the entire parcel. It is legally binding on all future owners and will be monitored and enforced by the Trust.

The Northern Virginia Conservation Trust is a non-profit land trust founded in 1994 to preserve and enhance the natural and historic resources of Northern Virginia. NVCT has preserved almost 600 acres in Northern Virginia through easements and land acquisition.

For more information, visit www.NVCT.org, or call 703-354-5093.

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