The state was unquestionably seeking to “incentivize” landowners. If that’s not bait, I don’t know what is.
Can you imagine how happy you would be if you made that kind of money for your family members or friends while doing some good for the environment!?
Again, we carefully reviewed every document that Todd sent us. The paperwork for each transaction was a bit overwhelming, but we powered through.
Todd handled brokering the sales of the tax credits to the transferees and had no trouble finding people who wanted them. It certainly seemed as if it were true that he had people lining up to buy them. And, we started hearing more about others who were doing conservation easements. It seemed like a gold mine for everyone, and everyone seemed happy. More and more land was being permanently preserved in Colorado. Landowners weren’t making as much as they would have from an outright sale of the land, but they got to live on their own land and enjoy it, protect it from future development, and receive the tax credit or the proceeds from selling the tax credit. And, of course, they also got the federal deduction.
The State of Colorado Is Happy
In fact, the State was so happy with this program that on May 1st, 2006, Colorado Governor Owens signed House Bill 06-1354 into law. This bill:
- Adjusted the formula structure of the conservation easement tax credit program. It replaces the previous two-tiered structure with a single-rate structure that allows up to 50% of the fair market value (FMV) of the conservation easement to be claimed as a state tax credit.
- The bill simultaneously increased the maximum amount of the credit that may be claimed from $260,000 to $375,000 (50% of the first 750,000 FMV of the donation), meaning we would be able to sell the tax credits for more.
It’s hard to believe, with the passage of an optimistic and incentivizing bill like that, that the state was unhappy with the C.E. program. I can’t overstate this – the state was unquestionably seeking to “incentivize” landowners. If that’s not bait, I don’t know what is.
We closed out 2006 with eight more C.E.s, and in early 2007, we again wrote checks to our partners. By the time we sent this second batch of checks, the return on their original investment was close to 400% and we were thrilled that our patience and their patience had paid off. Can you imagine how happy you would be if you made that kind of money for your family members or friends while doing some good for the environment!?
Just a few more years of doing these donations in batches, and we would be finished. Eventually all the land would be in C.E.’s and we could end the partnership, and feel confident that we had done a beautiful thing. Life was good and we all had happy futures. © Sharon Cairns Mann