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Thursday
Jul142016

A message from GLCC

Steve Small used to say that there were three reasons why people conserved their land. The first was because they loved their land. The second was because they loved their land. And the third reason was that they loved their land. 
While Steve is still correct, many landowners are also motivated by financial incentives that can make conserving one’s land a financially attractive alternative to developing it. Tax deductions, tax credits, and reductions in estate and property tax make all the difference, and the Georgia Land Conservation Center is proud to join with the land trust community in celebrating a big victory for land conservation in Georgia. 
 In the past six months, the financial incentives for land conservation have dramatically expanded. At a Federal level, the President signed into law a measure that increases the Federal tax deduction for the donation of a qualifying conservation easement from 30% of Adjusted Gross Income to 50% for individuals, and 100% for farmers and ranchers. Lawmakers also spread the deduction over a 15 year period and made the incentive permanent, rather than requiring a renewal every year or two.
Here in Georgia, lawmakers extended the land conservation tax credit for another five years, to the end of 2021. This allows donors to qualify for up to $250,000 in credits for individuals and up to $500,000 for partnerships. If you can’t use all the credits, you can transfer them by sale or gift.
The Georgia Land Conservation Center was an advocate for both of these incentives.  Along with our land trust colleagues, we worked to persuade our legislative delegations in Washington and Atlanta to support the expanded incentives. 
Fresh from that success, we turn to the task ahead: to try to make the incentives work more effectively by helping to educate landowners on how to qualify, and working to streamline the state’s tax credit program. 
To do this, we need your help. 
Please consider a tax deductible gift to GLCC. Any amount will help us continue to help people who share our concern about the future of open land for the benefit of present and future generations.
Donations may be sent to Georgia Land Conservation Center, 170 Security Circle, Suite 6, Athens, GA  30605, or use our secure online donation page.
Thank you.
Sincerely,
Hans Neuhauser
Executive Director 
Tuesday
May312016

Comment on tax credit rules by end of June

It is expected that this summer, the Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR) will be drafting an Amendment to the Conservation Tax Credit Rule (560-7-8-.50) to implement the changes brought about by the passage of legislation (HB 1014) extending the program for another five years. If you have suggestions as to how the Amendment might address the various issues (e.g., how the $30 million annual programmatic cap is to work), please email them by the end of June to Pamela M. Goshay at Pamela.Goshay@DOR.GA.GOV (Her address: Staff Attorney, Legal Affairs & Tax Policy, Georgia Department of Revenue, 15th Floor, 1800 Century Blvd., NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30345; Telephone: (404) 417-2441; Fax: (404) 417-2293.) Later, there will be a more formal opportunity to comment on the Proposed Amendment to the Rule, but now is the best time to influence what they’ll be like.
Tuesday
May102016

Governor Deal signs HB 1014 extending land conservation tax credit for another five years

Last year, Governor Deal signed legislation (HB 464) which would terminate the land conservation tax credit at the end of 2016. This year, on May 3, Governor Deal signed legislation that would turn the tax credit spigot back on through December 31, 2021. The amount of the tax credit remains the same: $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for partnerships. The current annual programmatic cap of $30 million remains. So does the two conservation purposes requirement. The new law requires DNR to prepare a report at the end of the five years to include information on the number of applications and acres donated, the value of the donations, the total amount of tax credits granted and the direct and indirect benefits to the state. At the end of 2021, DNR “shall accept no new applications for the tax credits” and the spigot will be turned off again.

The lion’s share of the credit for the passage of HB 1014 goes to Representatives Jay Powell and Bruce Williamson who sponsored the bill and all the legislators who voted for it (the vote was unanimous!). Lobbying for the bill was led by the Georgia Conservancy’s Robert Ramsay and Leah Dixon and supported by land trust leaders across the state.
One of the next steps will be for the Department of Revenue to revise the Rules for the Conservation Tax Credit to comply with the new dates. Included in this should be how the $30 million annual cap works (e.g., who keeps track of applications and what happens to applicants whose credits take the program over the annual limit?) Because DOR’s rulemaking process is not user friendly, it is suggested that any comments you have should be submitted to DOR before they publish their proposed changes.

 

 

Tuesday
Apr122016

Ocmulgee expansion bill passes U.S. House

On March 22, the House passed Representatives Bishop and Scott’s bill, the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park Boundary Act (HR 482). It would enlarge the current Ocmulgee National Monument, change its name to the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park and to authorize a study of further expansions between Macon and Hawkinsville. Action now moves to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Senators Isakson and Perdue introduced a companion bill, S. 1696, last June.

Tuesday
Mar292016

Land conservation tax credit extension bill goes to the Governor

On the 39th day of the 40-day legislative session, the Senate passed HB 1014 to extend the land conservation tax credit for five more years. The Senate vote was unanimous, 53-0. (The House’s earlier vote on the measure was also unanimous, 165-0.)

Because the Senate made no changes to Representatives Powell and Williamson’s bill, HB 1014 now goes to Governor Deal for his signature. He has 40 days from sine di (March 24) in which to do so. A great deal of credit for the passage of this bill goes to Robert Ramsay, President of the Georgia Conservancy, and his legislative team.

Their work was aided by those of you who contacted your Representatives and Senators. Thanks, all!