TennGreen Land Conservancy’s mission is to conserve land where people and nature can thrive. One of the strongest tools used in advancing our mission is conservation easements, a legal agreement between a landowner and TennGreen. Conservation easements restrict certain land uses, resulting in the permanent protection of the property’s conservation values such as rare species habitat, stream integrity, and carbon sequestering forests. Frequently, a landowner donates a conservation easement to protect their land. In turn, the landowner may be eligible for certain federal tax benefits such as a charitable contribution deduction. However, some promoters and advisors set up syndications to purchase land for the purpose of then conveying a conservation easement at a value much higher than the original purchase price. This structure, known as a syndicated conservation easement, is a fraudulent tax shelter which undermines the conservation easement system and jeopardizes the important conservation values which valid conservation easements seek to protect. Promoters of syndicated conservation easements are motivated by financial return rather than by habitat protection, as was intended when the Internal Revenue Service established a tax deduction for conservation easements. The abuse of the federal conservation easement tax incentive has cost taxpayers billions of dollars.
TennGreen, accredited through the Land Trust Alliance, works diligently to conserve land before it is lost to development and fragmentation while also maintaining the high standards afforded by our accreditation seal. TennGreen does not knowingly participate in syndicated conservation easements and follows internal policies and procedures to avoid fraudulent tax projects.
For this reason, TennGreen supports the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act, a bill that will halt this egregious abuse while ensuring the tax incentive for land conservation remains available for the genuine philanthropists with whom we work.
Click here to learn more about TennGreen conservation easements.