July 17, 2008 | Federal Tax Incentive for Local Land Conservation Renewed
Mount Vernon, Ohio Private landowners—especially family farmers —are beneficiaries of a newly passed federal tax incentive for conserving land. Landowners now have until December 31, 2009 to take advantage of the incentive.
The incentive involves voluntary land-protecting agreements, also known as conservation easements, to protect working farms from unwanted development. The incentive makes it more economically feasible for farmers and other landowners to keep their land in agricultural production. Additionally, the incentive can make it easier for families to leave their land to the next generation.
Most of the natural and working landscape of Knox County is privately owned land. Thus, maintaining the rural character of our community hinges on the decisions of individuals. Many land-use decisions are made in the marketplace, and such decisions often transform the landscape to more intensive uses. But other voluntary decisions by landowners can help to preserve our community's natural and agricultural resources. The newly passed federal tax incentive for conservation provides an important tool for farmers and landowners to preserve their land and receive important tax benefits.
The incentive, which applies to a landowner's federal income tax, will:
- Raise the deduction a donor can take for donating a voluntary land-protecting agreement from 30% of their income in any year to 50%;
- Allow farmers to deduct up to 100% of their income; and
- Increase the number of years for a donor to take deductions from 6 to 16 years.
According to Richard Stallard, president of the Owl Creek Conservancy, "Landowners are inspired to donate conservation easements by many things. For example, love of the rural character of Knox County, a feeling of being connected to a home place, and desire to leave a legacy for future generations. Such inspirations are at the heart of our work to protect permanently valuable natural resources in Knox County. The federal income tax deduction that comes with a donated conservation easement may encourage donations that might otherwise never be possible."
The Philander Chase Corporation and Owl Creek Conservancy are private land trusts operating in Knox County. The Philander Chase Corporation operates in and around Gambier. It owns 215 acres and holds 12 land-protecting agreements, covering 1630 acres in College, Harrison and Pleasant Townships. The Owl Creek Conservancy operates throughout Knox and surrounding counties. It owns no land, but it holds ten land-protecting agreements covering 337 acres in Knox County, 130 in Muskingum County, and 90 in Richland County. Self-perpetuating boards of trustees manage both the Philander Chase Corporation and the Owl Creek Conservancy. The Owl Creek Conservancy also has memberships open to all who want to support the effort to conserve the land and waters of the Knox County area.
Doug Givens of the Philander Chase Corporation said, "For a wide range of reasons a number of farmers and landowners have already conserved and preserved land in the County. The result is cleaner air and water and, more importantly for Knox County, conservation of working farms. Over the long term, conservation easements will help sustain one of Knox County's largest industries and will help maintain a rural heritage we often take for granted."
For more information about protecting your land and preserving your heritage, please telephone 392-6952 for a return call.