Nature Noted

Notes on a changing Nature

Location: Bellville, Texas, United States

I never would have predicted this one

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

An Alternative Plan

Thanks to a sharp eyed tax attorney, a proposal that could give land trusts a new conservation tool has been spotted in the President's Budget Proposal. It's in the Treasury Department's explanation of the revenue proposal. From January 1, 2006 to January 1, 2009, 50% of the capital gains from the sale of property to a qualified charitable organization for conservation purposes can be deducted. Why? Here's the reasoning from page 60 on the PDF.
"This proposal would encourage the sale of appreciated, environmentally sensitive land and land rights to qualified conservation groups, thus achieving conservation goals through voluntary sales of property, rather than imposing government regulation on land use. The proposal would achieve this goal by strengthening the ability of conservation groups to compete with other potential buyers of appreciated, environmentally sensitive land."
Interesting, no?
I wish I could give you more details on the "penalty" proposal on charities that fail to enforce conservation easements, but it seems pretty vague to me. (PDF page 113)
The proposal talks about the need to penalize those charities that fail to monitor and enforce conservation restrictions. It doesn't seem to penalize charities that help someone inflate the value of a donation, just those who don't monitor and enforce the easements. It does allow some discretion on the part of the Treasury Secretary in case circumstances change to make the intention to hold a property in perpetuity moot. The proposal calls for significant penalties based on the value of the deduction claimed, but doesn't specify those penalties.
My layman's read on this one is that it's to force trusts to take their stewardship seriously, but does little to crack down on inflated donations. Curious.


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