The benefits of a conservation easement include:
- The property remains in private ownership, allowing current owners to live on the land, manage it, leave it to their heirs, or sell it to someone else. Depending upon current tax code, a conservation easement can be utilized to lower the amount of estate taxes due from heirs.
- The property owner is eligible for federal and state income tax reductions if the easement is permanent, meets conservation purposes, and is donated to a qualifying organization. Although there is no acreage requirement for a conservation easement, the IRS determines whether or not lands qualify as a charitable gift, thereby providing federal tax incentives to the property owner. The lands must be certified by the Georgia Department of Natural resources in order for the property owner to receive a state income tax credit. Please visit the Georgia Land Conservation Program's for the most current tax credit information.
- Property taxes are often lowered. A property owner can ask the county tax assessor's office to re-asses the value of the land once a conservation easement is completed.
The most notable loss a property owner will endure is the lost potential for development. During the process of entering into a conservation easement, there will most likely be a variety of fees, including, but not limited to, accountant, appraisal, attorney, and surveyor fees. Also, easement holders have the right to request a stewardship fee be paid to them by the property owner to assist in monitoring the land and ensuring the restrictions placed by the easement are being followed.