P4C has five primary, overarching concerns with the Notice:
- The Notice is overly broad and burdensome, is retroactively applied all the way back to the tax year of 2010, and does not address the issue of overvaluation;
- The Notice is not sufficiently supported by evidence. By any publicly available statistics, abuses of valuation with conservation donations are rare and there is no indication that overvalued deductions are more likely to be claimed by a partnership of unrelated individuals as compared to an individual landowner or a partnership comprised of family members;
- It targets an important legal form and category of conservation easement donors (i.e., partnerships) while ignoring the principal concern relevant to all such donations – namely, ensuring fair and accurate appraisals;
- It was issued in final form without a process by which interested members of the public could participate and provide input; and
- Coming near the one-year anniversary of bipartisan legislation that enhanced and made permanent the conservation easement tax deduction, the Notice clearly countermands Congressional intent to encourage more of these donations and ensure there is further conservation of private lands in addition to development of those lands.
I was concerned to read a recent column making accusations about conservation partnerships (“Washington moves to beef up conservation easements,” Bergen Tjossem, Thursday, Jan. 18), and I wanted to help set the record straight. As a longtime advocate in the environment and wildlife management space, I see no benefit to dividing allies who are doing the important work of land conservation, yet that’s exactly what the author attempts to do.
On many points, the author and I agree — first and foremost on the importance of land conservation and the critical role the federal government plays in incentivizing conservation easements. Bipartisan majorities of Congress have repeatedly backed this tax structure, as well as Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Washington, D.C., understands that incentivizing conservation means more conservation. And more conservation is supposed to be what we’re all working toward. Read more
Webb Creek completed another successful year in 2017. We completed ten projects in Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and Virginia. Ultimately, over 2,780 acres of ecologically valuable property were placed into conservation easements in 2017, and we are proud to report that, to date, Webb Creek projects have protected over 14,407 acres of property throughout the country.
The past year also brought the addition of many new corporate partners. Armstrong Teasdale, an international law firm, began providing additional legal services, and headed up the majority of our private placements. Dempsey Lord Smith, LLC also stepped in 2017 and performed admirably as our managing broker dealer. For the first time in 2017, the Compatible Lands Foundation out of Tulsa, Oklahoma joined the Atlantic Coast Conservancy and Foothills Land Conservancy in working with Webb Creek and serving as stewards for the conserved properties.
Liberals like this tax provision because it protects the environment, conservatives like it for the tax breaks, and landholders and investors are reaping financial benefits.
What do the likes of Hollywood household names such as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Robert Redford and Harrison Ford have in common with business leaders such as Ted Turner and T. Boone Pickens? They all have been generous donors of conservation easements that protect land from future development in perpetuity. While their respective reasons for protecting land may vary, many people are drawn to protect their land because donating a conservation easement is quite often the perfect blend of doing good while reaping some financial benefit.