Conservation Easements Legislative Update 2010
By: Robert J. Allen
The following bills were signed into law following the most recent General Assembly session:
- House Bill 141 (Patron Pollard) - Amends Virginia Land Conservation Incentive Act of 1999, Va. Code § 58.1-512, to clarify that only organizations holding easements pursuant to the Virginia Conservation Easement Act are disqualified; organizations holding easements under other authority may qualify for the tax credit.
- Senate Bill 233 (Patron Watkins) - Reduces the amount of land preservation tax credits that may be claimed under Va. Code § 58.1-512 for tax year 2011 from $100,000 to $50,000. Affected taxpayers are given an additional year to claim the tax credit.
- House Bill 447 and Senate Bill 264 (multiple patrons) - Removes the $10,000 cap on the 2% transfer fee imposed on land preservation tax credits. Up to 50% of the revenues are first paid to the Dept. of Taxation and Dept. of Conservation and Recreation. Remaining revenues are paid to the Virginia Land Conservation Fund to be distributed to public or private conservation agencies that enforce the conservation purpose of the subject easement.
- Senate Bill 341 (Patron Hanger) - Requires that Dept. of Conservation and Recreation include in its annual report to the Depts. of Forestry and Agriculture & Consumer Services an estimate of the number of acres in "production agriculture and silviculture" that are protected by conservation easements.
- Senate Bill 661 (Patron Hanger) - Currently, the Director of the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation is required to verify the conservation value of conservation easements where the taxpayer applies for $1 million or more in credits. If any credit was allowed for any other portion of the recorded parcel within the preceding 11 years, DCR verification is needed when the aggregate of the credits is $1 million. SB 661 requires DCR verification for applications for credits of $250,000 or more when the real property was partitioned from or part of another parcel of land that received a tax credit, or has an application pending, in the last 3 years.
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