Introduction and benefits of easements

A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement — individually negotiated between landowner and land trust for each property — that perpetually restricts all future non-agricultural development of the property. The landowner retains title to the property, while being assured that it will stay in its natural, productive state forever. And Texans are assured that those things so critical for our quality of life — water, food, and air — will be protected.

Introduction and benefits of easements

A tax-deductible donation of a possibility of reverter, by contrast, would often not be practical ; [] so this section focuses on shoreline migration conservation easements.

The tax implications of an affirmative rolling easement for beach access would be similar. This chapter does not provide tax advice, and its analysis of tax laws cannot be used to avoid tax penalties. The property owner loses the opportunity to develop the land, which reduces its market value.

But the tax code provides several tax advantages, which are generally worth a significant fraction e. An investor-landowner who is planning to eventually sell or develop the land will be unwilling to provide a conservation easement unless the land trust will make up the difference e.

But a landowner with no intention of selling or developing could view the tax savings as, in effect, a reward for a conservation ethic that he is already following; so he may gladly donate an easement. Owners concerned about both conservation and the value of the estate they pass on to their heirs may require some payment, but less than what an investor would require.

First, the donation of an easement is a charitable contribution [] equal to its fair market value, [] which is generally the diminution in land value resulting from the restrictions.

In addition, property subject to a conservation easement may be partly excluded from the inheritance tax, for those with estates large enough to be subject to that tax; [] and in some states conservation easements entitle the landowner to a lower property tax rate.

The size of these tax incentives, in effect, can overcompensate some landowners given their objectives. If the land would not have been developed for decades anyway, the conservation easement has no impact during the next several decades.

And yet the owner is compensated by the tax system based on market value, which assumes the owner could develop now. Table 4 provides the details for a hypothetical owner in the 33 percent income tax bracket federal and state and a property tax rate of 1 percent of market value.

Introduction

The overcompensation occurs because there is a class of property owners who are, in effect, already giving something to society by not developing their land now.

But they are not getting a tax deduction for that sacrifice. By agreeing to never develop their land, they are given a tax deduction for both the additional sacrifice and for the current sacrifice.

As a result, the total tax savings can be greater than the value of the additional sacrifice, providing some compensation for the sacrifice the owner is already making. In the extreme case where the owner and his heirs would never develop or sell the land anyway, the tax savings are very attractive.

The present value of protecting an eroding farm that would otherwise be gradually consumed over a year period would be about 7 percent of the farm's value assuming, for example, a 5 percent discount rate ; [] the diminution in value from a rolling easement should be the present value of the lost property minus the cost of the shore protection.

Introduction and benefits of easements

In areas where development is unlikely or precluded by existing policies, the cost of shore protection may greater than the land value, [] which is why shore protection is rare in many rural areas.

One may also obtain property tax savings of a few hundred dollars per year e. There is some chance, however, that shore protection is not a property right, and that a government agency would not allow shore protection.

Main Section

The actual impact of a rolling easement on market value could be greater if for example potential homebuyers fear a higher rate of sea level rise than commonly assumed, or if they simply resist purchasing lands subject to the easement. To the extent that tax incentives motivate donations of conservation easements, land trusts are likely to find donations of rolling easements more difficult to obtain than donations of standard conservation easements.

For some owners, the fair market value of a conservation easement is many times what it would take to induce them not to develop their land because they do not want to develop anyway. So if the tax system provides an inducement equal to 30—50 percent of the decline in their property value, it is a good deal for them.

For donations of rolling easements to be attractive based on tax savings alone, there would have to be a class of landowners who are already inclined to avoid shore protection, and would therefore view the tax benefits of a rolling easement as more than enough compensation to formally agree to avoid shore protection.Charity Fraud: charity and voluntary sectors encouraged to become more fraud aware and resilient; New guidance to help prevent pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workplace.

Land Law - Easements - Content Requirements.

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tax law. Of particular. 5 INTRODUCTION In , America’s effort to conserve and protect farmland through the purchase of agricultural conservation easements (PACE) marked its 29th year. Suffolk County, New York, began. Introduction and Benefits of Easements Pages: 5 ( words) Published: April 30, An easement essentially is a right in another’s land and confers both a benefit and a burden.

Real Estate Law: Easement Basics