Seminar to look at tax incentives of donating land

A temporary increase in benefits for landowners who donate conservation easements to land trusts expires at the end of this year. To get the word out, the Kaua’i Public Land Trust will host a seminar on those tax incentives Wednesday.

A conservation easement is a promise by a landowner to give up development rights on the property, said Kaua‘i Public Land Trust President Gary Blaich. It’s a way of keeping open space open.

“(The landowner) gives up the right to build a house and the public benefits by having a view without that house in perpetuity,” Blaich said.

So what’s in it for landowners?

First, they retain ownership of the property; the easement is not a sale, though the deal is final.

Second, donors can write-off a percentage of the land’s value on their taxes.

In July 2006, the government upped those benefits for a two-year window to allow landowners to claim a greater percentage for a longer period of time. Currently, qualified landowners can deduct up to 50 percent of their adjusted gross income —up from 30 percent — while qualifying farmers and ranchers can deduct up to 100 percent of taxable income. The donation also qualifies owners to carry-forward deductions for up to 15 years, according to Blaich.

But the added benefits are temporary, as they expire at the end of the year and have not yet been renewed.

With seven months left to take advantage of the benefits, the Kaua‘i Public Land Trust will bring in lawyers from San Franciso-based law firm Coblentz, Patch, Duffy, and Bass to lead a seminar on the easements. In 2005, the firm assisted Kaua‘i’s trust in receiving an 18-acre conservation easement along a Kilauea coastal bluff appraised at $2.8 million. It is the only such conservation easement on the island, Blaich said.

Attorneys, financial planners, accountants, appraisers, realtors, land use professionals and landowners are invited to attend the event, which starts at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Kaua’i Marriott Resort & Beach Club, 3610 Rice St.

The seminar will also look into how conservation easements are created and appraised and how they help protect land. Participating experts will also include a Hawai‘i appraiser.

The cost of the seminar is $50 per person, which includes a continental breakfast, lunch and a workbook full of information and sample scenarios to assist your future efforts.

The event is co-sponsored by the Kaua’i Board of Realtors. 

The Kaua‘i Public Land Trust is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Kaua‘i’s land for the public’s benefit through acquisition, management and education. It was incorporated in 1989 as the first such trust in the state.

Land trusts are nonprofit conservation organizations that protect natural, scenic, recreational, agricultural, cultural or historic property by preserving it, according to Kaua‘i Public Land Trust’s Web site.

To attend the seminar, call Gary Blaich at 828-1438 or the Kauai Board of Realtors at 245-4049.

For more about the trust, visit


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