Americans for Tax Reform
By Tom Hebert
November 14, 2019
The Internal Revenue Service announced this week that it plans a “significant increase” in audits for taxpayers engaged in conservation easements. This unfortunate development continues the IRS’s disturbing pattern of harassing taxpayers that have entered into easement agreements.
The fact is, taxpayer abuse of the conservation easement deduction is few and far between. A recent analysis of cases in which the IRS took taxpayers to court over easement valuations found that over 80 percent of taxpayers’ claimed valuations were upheld.
The conservation easement deduction has existed for decades and incentivizes property owners to conserve land and historic sites by offering a charitable deduction. In order to claim the deduction, the taxpayer must agree to restrict their right to develop or alter the property. Organizations known as land trusts agree to monitor the restrictions placed on the property.