Internal Revenue Code Section 170(h) defines when the conveyance of less than all of a person’s interest in real property (e.g., a conservation easement) may still qualify as a charitable donation for tax purposes. A conservation easement is a perpetual restriction, which is granted in perpetuity in the use that may be made of real property exclusively for conservation purposes.
Section 170(h) defines “conservation purposes” as:
- the preservation of land areas for outdoor recreation by, or the education of, the general public
- the protection of a relatively natural habitat of fish, wildlife, or plants, or similar ecosystem
- the preservation of open space (including farmland and forest land) where such preservation is for the scenic enjoyment of the general public, or pursuant to a clearly delineated Federal, State, or local governmental conservation policy, and will yield a significant public benefit, or
- the preservation of an historically important land area or a certified historic structure.
In perpetuity means “forever”. The significance in the word forever cannot be overstated. Once the rights have been seceded, they can’t be taken back.