Conservation Tax Incentives

Easements are among the most powerful and effective tools available for the voluntary protection of fish and wildlife habitat, agricultural lands, forests and historic resources.

A conservation easement allows a private landowner to retire development rights to his or her property to protect resources important to the public. The landowner can continue to own, manage, live and work on their property, and can leave it to their heirs. Forty-eight states have passed statutes specifically providing for the use of permanent conservation easements by private landowners.

Conservation easements are also an important tool for preventing key agricultural lands from being lost to development. Ducks Unlimited works with landowners across the country to create and take care of conservation easements. For more information on DU and conservation easements click here.

These conservation related provisions create tax incentives for private landowners that will provide tax relief for landowners who donate conservation easements, those who sell easements or land to a conservation organizations (like DU), and for those landowners that partner through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Our hope is that these new tax incentives will allow more private landowners (including the ones with lower annual incomes) to afford to protect habitat essential to the future of wildlife.

Current Legislation

Fiscal Cliff
Before the 112th Congress’ final adjournment, they enacted a bill addressing the “fiscal cliff”. The “cliff” was a combination of tax increases and significant federal spending cuts due to go into effect Jan. 1-2, 2013. The bill was signed into law on Jan. 2, 2013 and addressed the expiring tax cuts by extending some, providing other tax relief, and raising taxes on certain earning levels. It also delays the mandated sequestration (federal budget cuts) until March 1, 2013. 

There are several tax provisions of significance to DU including: 

  1. extending the enhanced tax deduction to private landowners for donating conservation easements on their property for tax years 2012 (retroactively) and 2013; 
  2. creating permanent Alternative Minimum Tax relief; 
  3. creating permanent Estate Tax relief; and,
  4. extending the tax free distributions from Individual Retirement Accounts for charitable purposes for two years. 

Although it was discussed during the legislative process, there are no provisions in the law limiting charitable deductions by individuals.


Permanent Tax Incentives
Congress considered legislation in the last Congress that could further encourage the donation of conservation easements by making tax deductions permanent. Conservation easements benefit waterfowl, their habitat and related wildlife species. 

Though bills in the House and Senate received broad support, with 309 and 27 co-sponsors respectively, they were not called for a vote and will have to be re-introduced under the 113th Congress.

Below is a list of the co-sponsors of last year’s bills. If your member is on the list, call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask your Senators and Representatives to continue to support such legislation. If your members are not on the list, ask them to consider supporting permanent conservation easement tax deductions.

Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act of 2011 (S.339) Co-sponsors
Sen. Max Baucus (MT)
Sen. Mark Begich (AK) 
Sen. Michael Bennet. (CO) 
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT)
Sen. Barbara Boxer (CA) 
Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH) 
Sen. Maria Cantwell (WA) 
Sen. Benjamin Cardin (MD)
Sen. Robert Casey, Jr. (PA) 
Sen. Thad Cochran (MS) 
Sen. Susan Collins (ME) 
Sen. Christopher Coons (DE) 
Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (NY) 
Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA) 
Sen. Kay Hagan (NC) 
Sen. Tom Harkin (IA) 
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN) 
Sen. Carl Levin (MI) 
Sen. Joseph Lieberman (CT)
Sen. Ben Nelson (NE)
Sen. Mark Pryor (AR) 
Sen. Jack Reed (RI) 
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI)
Sen. Jon Tester (MT) 
Sen. Mark Udall (CO) 
Sen. Tom Udall (NM) 
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) 
Sen. Roger Wicker (MS)


Conservation Easement Incentive Act of 2011 (H.R. 1964) Co-sponsors
Rep. Gary Ackerman (NY) 
Rep. Rodney Alexander (LA) 
Rep. Jason Altmire (PA) 
Rep. Robert Andrews (NJ) 
Rep. Steve Austria (OH) 
Rep. Joe Baca (CA) 
Rep. Spencer Bachus (AL) 
Rep. Tammy Baldwin (WI) 
Rep. Lou Barletta (PA) 
Rep. John Barrow (GA) 
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (MD) 
Rep. Charles Bass (NH) 
Rep. Karen Bass (CA) 
Rep. Xavier Becerra (CA) 
Rep. Dan Benishek (MI) 
Rep. Shelley Berkley (NV) 
Rep. Howard Berman (CA) 
Rep. Sanford Bishop, Jr. (GA) 
Rep. Timothy Bishop (NY) 
Rep. Diane Black (TN) 
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (TN) 
Rep. Earl Blumenauerl (OR) 
Rep. Jo Bonner (AL) 
Rep. Dan Boren (OK) 
Rep. Leonard Boswell (IA) 
Rep. Charles Boustany, Jr. (LA)
Rep. Kevin Brady (TX) 
Rep. Robert Brady (PA) 
Rep. Bruce Braley (IA) 
Rep. Corrine Brown (FL) 
Rep. Vern Buchanan (FL) 
Rep. Dan Burton (IN) 
Rep. G.K. Butterfield. (NC)
Rep. Ken Calvert (CA) 
Rep. Dave Camp (MI) 
Rep. Lois Capps (CA) 
Rep. Michael Capuano (MA) 
Rep. Dennis Cardoza (CA) 
Rep. Rus Carnahan (MO) 
Rep. John Carter (TX) 
Rep. Bill Cassidy (LA) 
Rep. Kathy Castor (FL) 
Rep. Steve Chabot (OH) 
Rep. Ben Chandler (KY) 
Rep. Judy Chu (CA) 
Rep. David Cicilline (RI) 
Rep. Hansen Clarke (MI) 
Rep. Yvette Clarke (NY) 
Rep. William Lacy Clay (MO) 
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (MO) 
Rep. James Clyburn (SC) 
Rep. Howard Coble (NC) 
Rep. Mike Coffman (CO) 
Rep. Steve Cohen (TN) 
Rep. Michael Conaway (TX) 
Rep. Gerald Connolly (VA) 
Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (MI) 
Rep. Jim Costa (CA) 
Rep. Jerry Costello (IL) 
Rep. Joe Courtney (CT) 
Rep. Eric Crawford (AR) 
Rep. Ander Crenshaw (FL) 
Rep. Mark Critz (PA) 
Rep. Joseph Crowley (NY) 
Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX) 
Rep. Elijah Cummings (MD) 
Rep. Danny Davis (IL) 
Rep. Geoff Davis (KY) 
Rep. Susan Davis (CA) 
Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR) 
Rep. Diana DeGette (CO) 
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT) 
Rep. Charles Dent (PA) 
Rep. Scott DesJarlais (TN) 
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (FL)
Rep. John Dingell (MI) 
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (TX)
Rep. Rober Dold (IL)
Rep. Joe Donnelly (IN) 
Rep. Michael Doyle, Michael F. (PA) 
Rep. Duffy (WI) 
Rep. John Duncan, Jr. (TN) 
Rep. Keith Ellison (MN) 
Rep. Renee Ellmers (NC) 
Rep. Eliot Engel (NY) 
Rep. Anna Eshoo (CA) 
Rep. Blake Farenthold (TX) 
Rep. Sam Farr (CA) 
Rep. Bob Filner (CA) 
Rep. Stephen Lee Fincher (TN)
Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (PA) 
Rep. Randy Forbes (VA) 
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (NE) 
Rep. Barney Frank (MA) 
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ)
Rep. Elton Gallegly (CA) 
Rep. John Garamendi (CA) 
Rep. Cory Gardner (CO)
Rep. Scott Garrett (NJ) 
Rep. Bob Gibbs (OH) 
Rep. Christopher Gibson (NY)
Rep. Charles Gonzalez (TX) 
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (VA) 
Rep. Trey Gowdy (SC) 
Rep. Gene Green (TX) 
Rep. Tim Griffin (AR) 
Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ) 
Rep. Michael Grimm (NY) 
Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY) 
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (IL) 
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (HI) 
Rep. Richard Hanna (NY) 
Rep. Gregg Harper (MS) 
Rep. Andy Harris (MD) 
Rep. Alcee Hastings (FL) 
Rep. Nan Hayworth (NY) 
Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM) 
Rep. Brian Higgins (NY) 
Rep. James Himes (CT) 
Rep. Maurice Hinchey (NY) 
Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (TX) 
Rep. Mazie Hirono (HI) 
Rep. Kathleen Hochul (NY) 
Rep. Tim Holden (PA) 
Rep. Rush Holt (NJ) 
Rep. Michael Honda (CA) 
Rep. Bill Huizenga (MI) 
Rep. Randy Hultgren (IL) 
Rep. Robert Hurt (VA) 
Rep. Jay Inslee (WA) 
Rep. Steve Israel (NY) 
Rep. Darrell Issa (CA) 
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX) 
Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (IL) 
Rep. Bill Johnson (OH) 
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX) 
Rep. Sam Johnson (TX) 
Rep. Timothy Johnson (IL)
Rep. Walter Jones, Jr. (NC) 
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH) 
Rep. William Keating (MA) 
Rep. Mike Kelly (PA) 
Rep. Dale Kildee (MI) 
Rep. Ron Kind (WI) 
Rep. Peter King (NY) 
Rep. Steve King (IA) 
Rep. Larry Kissell (NC) 
Rep. John Kline (MN) 
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH) 
Rep. Leonard Lance (NJ) 
Rep. James Langevin (RI) 
Rep. Rick Larsen (WA) 
Rep. John Larson (CT) 
Rep. Tom Latham (IA) 
Rep. Steven LaTourette (OH)
Rep. Robert Latta (OH) 
Rep. Barbara Lee (CA) 
Rep. Sander Levin (MI) 
Rep. John Lewis (GA) 
Rep. Daniel Lipinski (IL)
Rep. Frank LoBiondo (NJ)
Rep. David Loebsack (IA) 
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA) 
Rep. Nita Lowey (NY) 
Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO) 
Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM) 
Rep. Cynthia Lummis (WY) 
Rep. Daniel Lungren (CA) 
Rep. Stephen Lynch (MA) 
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY) 
Rep. Donald Manzullo (IL) 
Rep. Kenny Marchant (TX) 
Rep. Edward Markey (MA) 
Rep. Jim Matheson (UT) 
Rep. Doris Matsui (CA) 
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (NY) 
Rep. Michael McCaul (TX) 
Rep. Betty McCollum (MN) 
Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (MI) 
Rep. Jim McDermott (WA) 
Rep. James McGovern (MA) 
Rep. Patrick McHenry (NC) 
Rep. Mike McIntyre (NC) 
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA) 
Rep. Jerry McNerney (CA) 
Rep. Patrick Meehan (PA) 
Rep. Michael Michaud (ME) 
Rep. Brad Miller (NC) 
Rep. Candice Miller (MI) 
Rep. George Miller (CA) 
Rep. Jeff Miller (FL) 
Rep. Gwen Moore (WI) 
Rep. James Moran (VA) 
Rep. Christopher Murphy (CT) 
Rep. Tim Murphy (PA) 
Rep. Sue Myrick (NC) 
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (NY) 
Rep. Grace Napolitano (CA) 
Rep. Richard Neal (MA) 
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC) 
Rep. Devin Nunes (CA) 
Rep. Alan Nunnelee (MS) 
Rep. Pete Olson (TX) 
Rep. John Olver (MA) 
Rep. William Owens (NY) 
Rep. Steven Palazzo (MS) 
Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ) 
Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ) 
Rep. Ed Pastor (AZ) 
Rep. Ron Paul (TX) 
Rep. Erik Paulsen (MN) 
Rep. Donald Payne (NJ) 
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO) 
Rep. Gary Peters (MI) 
Rep. Collin Peterson (MN) 
Rep. Thomas Petri (WI) 
Rep. Pedro Pierluisi (PR) 
Rep. Chellie Pingree (ME) 
Rep. Joseph Pitts (PA) 
Rep. Todd Russell Platts (PA) 
Rep. Jared Polis (CO) 
Rep. David Price (NC) 
Rep. Mike Quigley (IL) 
Rep. Nick Rahall, II (WV) 
Rep. Charles Rangel (NY) 
Rep. Tom Reed (NY) 
Rep. Denny Rehberg (MT) 
Rep. David Reichert (WA) 
Rep. James Renacci (OH) 
Rep. Silvestre Reyes (TX) 
Rep. Reid Ribble (WI) 
Rep. Laura Richardson (CA) 
Rep. David Rivera (FL) 
Rep. David Roe (TN) 
Rep. Harold Rogers (KY) 
Rep. Mike Rogers (AL) 
Rep. Mike Rogers (MI) 
Rep. Todd Rokita (IN) 
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL) 
Rep. Dennis Ross (FL) 
Rep. Mike Ross (AR) 
Rep. Steven Rothman (NJ) 
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA) 
Rep. Jon Runyan (NJ) 
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD) 
Rep. Bobby Rush (IL) 
Rep. Tim Ryan (OH) 
Rep. Linda Sanchez (CA) 
Rep. Loretta Sanchez (CA) 
Rep. John Sarbanes (MD) 
Rep. Janice Schakowsky (IL) 
Rep. Adam Schiff (CA) 
Rep. Aaron Schock (IL) 
Rep. Kurt Schrader (OR) 
Rep. Allyson Schwartz (PA) 
Rep. Austin Scott (GA) 
Rep. David Scott (GA) 
Rep. Robert Scott (VA) 
Rep. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (WI) 
Rep. Jose Serrano (NY) 
Rep. Pete Sessions (TX) 
Rep. Terri Sewell (AL) 
Rep. Brad Sherman (CA) 
Rep. John Shimkus (IL) 
Rep. Heath Shuler (NC) 
Rep. Bill Shuster (PA) 
Rep. Michael Simpson (ID) 
Rep. Albio Sires (NJ) 
Rep. Louise McIntosh Slaughter (NY) 
Rep. Adam Smith (WA) 
Rep. Adrian Smith (NE) 
Rep. Christopher Smith (NJ) 
Rep. Lamar Smith (TX) 
Rep. Steve Southerland (FL) 
Rep. Jackie Speier (CA) 
Rep. Fortney Pete Stark (CA) 
Rep. Betty Sutton (OH) 
Rep. Lee Terry (NE) 
Rep. Bennie Thompson (MS) 
Rep. Glenn Thompson (PA) 
Rep. Mike Thompson (CA) 
Rep. Mac Thornberry (TX) 
Rep. Patrick Tiberi (OH) 
Rep. John Tierney (MA) 
Rep. Scott Tipton (CO) 
Rep. Paul Tonko (NY) 
Rep. Edolphus Towns (NY) 
Rep. Niki Tsongas (MA) 
Rep. Michael Turner (OH) 
Rep. Fred Upton (MI) 
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD) 
Rep. Nydia Velazquez (NY) 
Rep. Peter Visclosky (IN) 
Rep. Greg Walden (OR) 
Rep. Timothy Walz (MN) 
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL) 
Rep. Maxine Waters (CA) 
Rep. Melvin Watt (NC) 
Rep. Henry Waxman (CA) 
Rep. Anthony Weiner (NY) 
Rep. Peter Welch (VT) 
Rep. Joe Wilson (SC) 
Rep. Robert Wittman (VA) 
Rep. Frank Wolf (VA) 
Rep. Steve Womack (AR) 
Rep. Lynn Woolsey (CA) 
Rep. David Wu (OR) 
Rep. John Yarmuth (KY) 
Rep. Don Young (AK)