Monday, July 11, 2016

These tax credits make land conservation a steal

Michigan farmer Ken Engle wanted to keep his 300-acre spread of vineyards and fruit trees with the exquisite view of Lake Michigan in his family forever. He wasn't sure he could afford it. "We're under very high development pressure in this area," said Engle, 69, who lives in Williamsburg, Mich., near Traverse City. Yet thanks in part to a little-known federal tax incentive for land conservation donations, ranchers and farmers like Engle can harvest income tax savings on 100 percent of their annual income for 16 years. All other donors can deduct up to 50 percent. He can pocket the savings or reinvest in his business while at the same time preserving his land for future generations. How it works To get the process going, an owner contacts a local land trust, of which there are about 1,100 nationwide. If the trust agrees that the property has a public benefit, it can then become eligible for the tax break, as long as IRS guidelines are followed...more

So this is what the DC Deep Thinkers have foisted upon us:  Take your land out of production and they will give you all kinds of incentives (100 percent of income taxes for 16 years); keep it encumbrance free and in production and they will regulate and tax the hell out of you.


Dave Pickel said...

Frank, I don't think you understand the purpose of a conservation easement. The objective is to keep the ground in production and avoid it being converted to non-agricultural uses. W/in a couple of miles where I sit there are at least two each devoted to ag-production in perpetuity. You can't be serious.

Frank DuBois said...

I knew when I hurridly wrote that, that I should have gone back and clarified what I meant...but I was in a hurry.

I do understand conservation easements. The current use (ag production) is frozen in time for perpetuity. Any future uses, or changes in the current methods of ag production employed, are forbidden. I think it is certainly presumptuous to think we know what the highest and best use of this property will be 100-200-500 years from now.

However, as a firm believer in property rights, if a person wants to do this with his or her property they certainly have the right. My problem is the government providing incentives or subsidies to do it. Why should the government subsidize an easement owner while punishing a neighbor who chooses not to have one? It is blatantly unfair to subsidize one land owner (thru the tax structure)with an easement who is competing against other ag producers who must absorb the cost of those taxes.

Dave Pickel said...

OK Frank. Maybe you understand it now that someone else pointed out your misinformation.

Frank DuBois said...

Sorry Dave. Do a search for conservation easement on this blog and you will see the issue has been discussed for over 10 years on many posts. Take credit for having me clarify my comment for new readers, but I have understood the issue for years, and long time readers know that.