Thursday, January 15, 2009

Governor Signs GOP-Backed Proposal

A GOP-backed proposal establishing incentives for donating conservation land in Massachusetts has been signed into law by the Governor.

The GOP House Leader offered an amendment, that was supported by the majority of the caucus, to create a state program to provide an added incentive for prospective land donors.

Currently, when landowners donate open-space land they become eligible for a federal income tax credit. However, there are several costs, such as attorney’s fees and appraisal costs that can discourage donors.

Under the new law, which will go into effect in 2011 will give the taxpayer a tax credit equal to 50 percent of the appraised fair market value of the land. The credit is capped at $50,000 for each landowner and a statewide total of $2 million annually.

“This law give residents an incentive to donate conservation land, something they didn’t necessarily have before,” said Representative Jones. “Not only do I expect it to significantly increase land donation, but it will also allow the Commonwealth to protect some of the state’s most valuable land. It’s really a win-win no matter how you look at it.”

"This is an innovative, fiscally responsible way to encourage land conservation," said Representative Paul Frost, a supporter of the law. "Similar programs have proven successful in other states and I expect this law will not only generate new interest in land donation, but also help us protect the state's natural resources."

Eligible lands include areas that protect drinking water supplies, wildlife habitat and biological diversity, scenic and cultural values, among others.

GOP Representatives who supported this law include: Bradley H. Jones, Jr.,
George N. Peterson, Jr., Vinny deMacedo, Lewis G. Evangelidis, Paul K. Frost,
Elizabeth A. Poirier, Robert S. Hargraves, Susan Williams Gifford, Richard J. Ross, Jeffrey Perry, Donald F. Humason, Jr. and Todd M. Smola.