Taxpayers Take Heart: Court Rebukes IRS on Key Conservation Issue

National Taxpayers Union
By Pete Sepp
January 25, 2019

In an NTU analysis published late last year, we took serious issue with an ongoing campaign of unjustified IRS attacks on conservation easement donations and the implications for taxpayers’ rights. Among the troubling IRS positions we noted was that the IRS was taking issue with “amendment clauses” in easement agreements, which allow both parties, by mutual consent, to make prudent adjustments that ensure evolving realities are taken into account for preserving land in perpetuity.

These types of amendment clauses have long been common in conservation easement donations, so the IRS position on this one matter could eliminate many, if not most, conservation easement deductions from past years. The larger concern for the entire taxpayer community is obvious: if the IRS can effectively wipe out a deduction that Congress has created, enhanced, and affirmed for decades, simply by bullying its way through court and administrative edicts, everyone who files a tax return and plays by the rules is at risk.

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