Friday, April 2, 2021
A number of commentators have recently posted articles addressing conservation easement deductions. Several of these articles were originally published in 2020 in a Tax Notes publication, but for readers who may not have access to Tax Notes publications they are now available on SSRN and so I am including them in this list:
- Jessica Jay, Down the Rabbit Hole with the IRS' Challenge to Perpetual Conservation Easements, Part Two, in the Environmental Law Reporter.
- Nancy Ortmeyer Kuhn, The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals: The Current Focus for Conservation Easements, in Bloomberg Tax.
- Douglas L. Longhofer and Katherine Jordan, Eroding Conservation, Preserving Abuse — A Flawed IRS Strategy, originally published in Tax Notes Federal.
- Nancy A. McLaughlin, Amendment Clauses in Easements: Ensuring Protection in Perpetuity, originally published in Tax Notes.
- Nancy A. McLaughlin and Ann Taylor Schwing, Conservation Easements and Development Rights: Law and Policy, originally published in Tax Notes.
In addition, the only exempt organizations issue that appears to have been raised by the National Taxpayer Advocate in her latest report to Congress focused on conservation easements. The report identified syndicated conservation easements as being at the center of the "most significant cases" involving a charitable contribution deduction issue, which was in turn identified as the ninth most litigated issue. The report notes that perpetuity, as opposed to valuation, has become the focus of recent conservation easement cases. See pages 216-219 of the report for more details.
Finally, Tax Notes reports that the DOJ has reached a settlement with a consultant who was one of the targets of the DOJ's investigation of syndicated conservation easements. Without admitting any wrongdoing, the consultant agreed to be permanently enjoined from promoting or arranging a qualified conservation easement contribution in the future (and to pay an amount that was not specific in the court filing).
UPDATE: Tax Notes reports that taxpayers involved in syndicated conservation easement deals have now filed a class action lawsuit against promoters of those deals.