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Appraising Conservation Easement Donations: The Need for More Uniform Standards and Greater Oversight

November 2007

Citation: ELR 10841

Author: Jessica A. Steinberg

Editors' Summary: Standardized appraisal methods for charitable contributions of conservation easement donations do not currently exist. Without such standards, landowners may potentially overvalue their donations of conservation easements to land trusts. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has recognized this abuse of the tax laws and has threatened to severely limit or eliminate the charitable contribution deduction program for conservation easements. In this Article, Jessica A. Steinberg refutes the notion of limiting the charitable contribution program and proposes the establishment of uniform appraisal methods and greater oversight by the IRS. She argues that without the deduction incentive, many landowners may be unwilling to donate conservation easements on their property, which will lead to less land preserved. More uniform appraisal methods and greater oversight of the appraisal process will enable the IRS to curb potential abuse of the tax laws and ensure that landowners continue to donate conservation easements on their property in perpetuity.

Jessica A. Steinberg is a 2007 graduate of Pace Law School. She is an associate at Sive, Paget & Riesel, P.C. She wishes to thank Prof. Bridget Crawford for her invaluable guidance and support in writing this Article.

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