Land Conservation, Tax Credits, Estate and Succession Planning
Voluntary private land conservation is the foundation of Legacy Land Trust Society. Landowners whose lives and livelihoods have been connected to the land often wish to ensure some continuity of the values that have become important to them. Such values, to name a few, might include:
- agricultural/food production uses,
- natural components such as
- native grasslands,
- riparian areas or
- forested areas,
- archaeological or
- historical elements.
In many cases privately owned land provides multiple economic uses such as grain, livestock, and farm/ranch vacations, etc, It also may include public benefits such as healthy watersheds, attractive viewscapes and robust wildlife and nature.
Communities and individuals engaging in the conservation of such values have been recognized by federal and provincial governments as important contributors to our quality of life. One of the tangible indications of such recognition is the availability of income tax credits or deductions for a variety of interests in privately held land. If the land is determined to be ecologically sensitive the resulting tax treatment of any land interests donated to a qualified recipient such as a land trust society serves to mitigate capital gains tax. Many landowners have chosen to use a tool such as a Conservation Easement (CE), a type of interest in land, as a way to facilitate estate and succession planning.
The Conservation Easement (CE) is a voluntary agreement between the landowner and a Land Trust by which certain rights such as subdivision, conversion of native landscapes or further development may be restricted or foregone. In exchange, a tax credit may be applied against farm or other income.
As the trustee of such interests, the Legacy Land Trust Society has an obligation to work with the landowner to ensure the objectives of the CE are met. The terms and restrictions of CEs vary considerably and are dependent on an variety of factors, including the nature of the land in question, the motivations and interests of the owners and the mandate and capacity of the land trust society. Accordingly, until the details of such a transaction are worked out, there is no appropriate way to determine the probable size of a tax credit.