Jersey Conservation Foundation works with landowners
to design land preservation transactions that are a win-win for all. Using Garden State Greenways, a plan that envisons a network of interconnected open space and farmland as our guide, we primarily protect lands in identified project areas using established criteria. There
are many methods to preserve land, including fee simple acquisition, conservation and agricultural
easements, reserve life estate or remainder interest,
and bequest. Each is briefly described below.
These land preservation techniques can be accomplished through
a donation, bargain sale or sale for full value. A bargain sale
is a sale at less than the appraised fair market value; donation
is an outright gift for no financial remuneration. The Internal
Revenue Service allows an income tax deduction for qualified conservation
donations of either a part or the entire value of a property. New
Jersey Conservation Foundation strongly urges landowners to consult
with their personal tax advisors regarding eligible deductions.
A fee simple acquisition by New Jersey Conservation Foundation
is the sale or gift of the property to our organization.
New Jersey Conservation Foundation becomes the owner of the land,
which is restricted as permanent open space or farmland. In some cases, the
land may be transferred to state or local governments, or nonprofit organizations, to further their open space or agricultural objectives.
|Conservation and Farmland Easements
A landowner may donate or sell a conservation easement or farmland
easement on his/her property. A conservation easement is a legal
restriction that prohibits development of a property. It also restricts activities on the property that would have a negative
effect on the natural characteristics of the property. These restrictions
are usually tailored to each specific property and landowner. A farmland
easement extinguishes development rights and limits the future use
of the property to agriculture.
A conservation easement may include provisions for agricultural
and recreational uses, and continuing single residential use by
the property owner. A conservation easement may reduce
the value of the property for inheritance tax purposes, enabling
the land to remain in the family rather than be sold to pay the
estate taxes. The land remains in private ownership and New Jersey
Conservation Foundation or its partners are responsible for monitoring and defending
Easement Revitalization Guidebook for Land Trusts >>
|Reserved Life Estate or Remainder Interest
With a reserved life estate or remainder interest the land is transferred
to New Jersey Conservation Foundation immediately and the owner
reserves the use of the property for his or her lifetime. This allows the landowner
to receive an income tax benefit during his or her lifetime, and
removes the value of the property from the estate.
With a bequest, the landowner conveys the property to New Jersey
Conservation Foundation at the time of his or her death through
a will. This removes the value of the property from the estate for
inheritance tax purposes.
Financial Benefits of Land Preservation
Land preservation benefits the landowner as well as his/her surrounding
communities. For every single family home built, municipalities
collect additional property taxes. However, the cost to provide
utilities, roadways, police and firefighter services, education,
and all of the amenities that we expect far exceeds the increase
in tax revenue. Over-development is a financial drain on municipalities.
Preserved open space and farmland requires few municipal services.
With better planning for land preservation and focused development,
municipalities might avoid sprawl, preserve the character of their
community, provide recreation space for their residents and protect
the water supply and air quality.
Landowners who preserve their lands may also derive a financial
benefit. The landowner may be eligible to receive tax benefits by
being able to deduct the value of a donation of land, or a donation
of the development rights on the land, from his or her taxes for
up to six years. A landowner who restricts development on his or
her property by placing a conservation easement on the property
may also reduce annual property taxes. New Jersey Conservation Foundation
strongly urges landowners to consult with their personal tax advisors
regarding eligible deductions.