July 22, 2018
Conservation Easement Incentive Act
The Conservation Easement Incentive Act was introduced in Congress in February. The bill would make permanent a tax incentive that encourages landowners to place a conservation easement on their land. Since the tax incentive periodically expires and must be renewed, it’s important that the incentive achieve permanency so that conservation can continue unobstructed.
In July 2015, the Senate Finance Committee picked up expired tax provisions, which includes the enhanced incentive for conservation easement donations. The committee agreed to a two-year extension of all expired items.
Two amendments were offered to make the incentive for conservation easement permanent. Senator Thune (R-S.D.), with Senators Stabenow (D-Mich.), Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Wyden (D-Ore.) offered an amendment to make the three charitable giving incentives (conservation easements, plus IRA rollover and food inventory donations) permanent. Additionally, Senator Heller (R-Nev.), along with Senators Stabenow, Schumer, Isakson (R-Ga.), Bennet (D-Colo.), Roberts (R-Kan.) and Portman (R-Ohio) offered an amendment to specifically make the enhanced incentive for conservation easement donations permanent. Neither of these amendments fit the rules that had been set, and had to be withdrawn. Despite this, the amendments demonstrated strong support for making these incentives permanent.
It's likely that negotiations on permanency will occur this fall. There will be at least two opportunities for the House and Senate to address making the incentive permanent. The first is the transportation bill (the DRIVE Act), and the second is the end-of-session madness in December. The transportation funding expires at the end of October, at which time Congress will need to extend the funding again. Dealing with expired tax provisions may become a part of that discussion, or we may find an even bigger tax discussion in December.
Fortunately, there is strong support for the conservation incentive in both the House and Senate. The Conservation Easement Incentive Act (CEIA) (S.330) has a total of 36 Senate sponsors, with Senators Cotton (R-Ark.), Boxer (D-Calif.), Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Cassidy (R-La.), Murkowski (R-Alaska), Schumer and Cantwell (D-Wash.) coming on in July. Find more information about the CEIA at: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/330/cosponsors
For more information, visit the Land Trust Alliance at: http://www.landtrustalliance.org/issues-action/take-action/tax-incentives
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