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Tax change in ag bill could help save land
By Noah Brenner, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Date: June 5, 2008
A provision changing the way people use tax deductions on conservation easements could help preserve agricultural land and open space in Teton County and surrounding areas.
The provision became law May 22 when Congress overrode President George Bush’s veto of the bill.
The incentive, which applies to a landowner’s federal income tax, will raise the deduction a landowner can take for donating a conservation easement from 30 percent of their income in any year to 50 percent and allow ranchers to deduct up to 100 percent of their income. It will also increase the number of years a donor can take deductions from six to 16 years.
Similar incentives had been in place since 2006 but expired Jan. 1. Language in the farm bill makes the extension effective the first of this year and keeps the incentive in place through 2009.
The previous tax system benefited those landowners who had large incomes and could use the full deduction but hurt landowners who wanted to donate valuable property but did not have enough annual income to fully take advantage of the deduction.
While the provision could help conserve land in Teton County, its greatest impact will likely be felt in the areas surrounding Jackson Hole, like Sublette and Lincoln counties, where working ranches are more prevalent.
“This renewed benefit offers Sublette County landowners, especially working ranch families, a meaningful incentive for conserving the things they love about their land and our community,” Lara Ryan, executive director of the Green River Valley Land Trust, said in a release.
Since 2000, the Green River Valley Land Trust has worked with more than 40 families to conserve nearly 24,000 acres of working ranchland, wildlife habitat and open space in Sublette County.