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8th District Congressman Introduced and Worked to Extend Tax Incentives for Conservation Easements for One Year

By Heritage Conservancy
November 26, 2007

(Doylestown, PA) – Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) was joined by members of Heritage Conservancy Monday, November 19, 2007, to tout bipartisan legislation that provides tax credits for property owners who preserve their land from development. Legislation introduced by Congressman Murphy was incorporated and passed by the House last week. The measure would extend a provision in the federal tax code that provides deductions to those who place land into a conservation easement. This would encourage landowners to make the difficult, but admirable, choice of preserving their land. Developers are willing to pay vast amounts for prime real estate in places like rural Bucks County. By choosing not to sell, landowners forfeit a large buy-out to protect the integrity of their land. The provision—which is set to expire at the end of this year—was included in a package of tax cuts that include Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) relief and other popular tax provisions that were set to expire this year.

The provision would allow landowners to deduct the fair market value on qualified conservation easements. Such deductions are capped at 50 percent of income, with farmers and ranchers eligible to claim 100 percent. The carry forward period for the deductions is 15 years.

“Farmers and other landowners give up a big pay day when they choose not to sell to developers. My bipartisan bill would reward landowners for doing the right thing and for making our community even more beautiful,” said Congressman Patrick Murphy. “We need to make it easier for farmers to keep their farms and for property owners to permanently protect the rural character of their land. This legislation extends important tax cuts that make these tough choices just a little bit easier.”

“This legislation puts us on the path to permanent tax incentives, which is what 8th District families really need,” Murphy added.

Heritage Conservancy has identified property owners across Bucks County that would benefit from the tax incentives. “The preservation of many valuable properties could be jeopardized if these tax incentives expire,” according to Jeff Marshall, Vice President for Resource Protection at Heritage Conservancy. “This could have an effect on hundreds of acres of potential open space.”

“It is clear that Congressman Murphy’s ideal preference is permanent and expanded tax incentives for qualified conservation easements. We applaud and welcome his efforts in the interim to take practical steps toward an extension,” said Clifford C. David, Jr., Heritage Conservancy President. “Patrick Murphy has taken a leadership position on an issue important to the conservation community by extending these tax incentives; we see a clear benefit to the residents of Bucks County.”

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