Anstett Farm, Goshen, CT
1) All my wealth is tied up in my land so I can’t afford to donate an easement. Is there a way to preserve the land and get some cash without selling off building lots?
A) Yes! Easements can be sold, either at full value or at some reduced value which is often referred to as a "bargain sale". For properties with high conservation value, the Land Trust is willing to discuss purchase possibilities. There are many State and Federal programs available to help landowners preserve their property be it farmland, forest or other open space. In most cases, though, government funding will only cover a portion of the purchase cost. The remainder is open for negotiation.
2) If I donate a conservation easement to the Goshen Land Trust will I realize tax benefits?
Many easement donors have received charitable donation deductions on their federal income taxes. You should consult your tax advisor concerning the benefits of donating a conservation easement on your land and your eligibility for these benefits. The value of the tax deduction is based on an appraisal by a licensed real estate appraiser and is equal to the value of the unrestricted property minus the value of the property with the easement.
3) Will I have strangers walking all over my land all the time?
A) No, donated easements and development rights purchased by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture do not have to allow public access. If grant money from the Department of Environmental Protection is used to purchase your easement, some public access will be required.
4) Will an easement prevent me from cutting trees on my land? I heat my house with wood.
A) No, in fact many easements are specifically designed to encourage active forestry. Major forestry activities would require a forest management plan created by a certified forester.
5) Would an easement prevent me from giving a building lot to my son or daughter?
A) The primary purpose of a conservation easement is to prevent development of the land. However, a limited number of reserved rights may be allowed in the easement and might include reservation of a couple building lots. If too many reserved rights are included, the IRS might disallow the income tax deduction, so you need to consult your tax advisor on this one.
6) If a lot of people donate easements on their property, won’t that lower the tax base and increase taxes for the rest of us?
A) No. Most people with significant land holdings put their land in Public Act 490 which allows the land to be assessed at its much lower use value, so they are already paying very low property taxes on their land. However, if that land were developed, we would likely see demand for schools and other services increase faster than the tax revenue from the developed properties, resulting in increased taxes for all of us.
7) I am interested in putting a conservation easement on my property. Would you be able to meet with me to discuss the steps I need to take?
A) We would be happy to meet with you. Contact Barry Donaldson or Chris Craig.