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Farm land protection board accepting applications, deadline set for August

By Staff | Apr 8, 2011

CHARLES TOWN This may be the last year that private landowners – especially working family farmers – can benefit from a significant tax benefit for protecting their land by donating a voluntary conservation agreement.

The federal incentive, which will expire on Dec. 31, is designed to encourage easement donations by allowing larger tax deductions than had been allowed in previous years. Under this incentive between 2006 and 2010, the Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board worked with 10 landowners in the community to conserve 1,210 acres of productive agricultural lands.

When landowners donate all or a part of an agricultural conservation easement to board, the landowners maintain ownership and management of their land and can pass the land on to their heirs, or sell the farm for use as farmland only.

The value of a conservation easement is the difference between the land’s unrestricted value and its conserved value with limited development and usage rights. The value of an easement donation can be used as a tax credit which can be taken over as many as 16 years.

The enhanced incentive increases the benefits landowners receive from donating a conservation easement:

Landowners can deduct the value of the donated easement values up to 50 percent of their adjusted gross income each year;

Farmers who earn at least half their income from their land may be able to deduct donated easement values up to 100 percent of their income; and

Easement donors can take deductions for their donations for as many as 16 years.

The Farmland Protection Board will accept applications for donations up until Aug. 15 in order to be able to meet the Dec. 31 deadline.

To learn more about the enhanced incentive, visit the Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board at www.wvfarmlandprotection.org/co_jeff_main.cfm. For more information, contact Elizabeth Wheeler at 304-724-1414.