Pulse Results

Pulse: Single Out Golf Courses from Conservation Tax Breaks

Pulse: Single Out Golf Courses from Conservation Tax Breaks

Last month, the LANDTHINK Pulse posed the following question to our audience: Should golf courses be eligible for conservation easement tax deductions? Our informal online survey revealed that 74.5% of respondents think that golf courses SHOULD NOT be eligible for conservation easement tax deductions.

A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government, that protects the land from development and enhances wildlife and natural habitat. These environmental easements “run with the land”, meaning they automatically transfer from the present owner to future owners and therefore becomes part of the chain of title. Conservation easements are not required to have public access. They are designed with a specific set of objectives in mind (based on the needs of the land owner) and they offer tremendous tax incentives if the property meets conditions and qualifies as a charitable deduction.

There is no question; the LANDTHINK audience solidly believes that golf courses should be excluded from eligibility for the conservation easement tax break. Most people in opposition argue that the heavy use of herbicides, fertilizers, and chemicals by golf courses does not serve to protect the land and natural habitat. Only 25.5% answered “YES”, indicating golf courses should be eligible for conservation easement tax deductions.

It was not until the 1990’s that conservation easements became a widely popular avenue for protecting land in perpetuity. The subject has even been injected into the current presidential race. James Moorhead, founder of the Moorhead Law Group, enlightened us on Donald Trump’s use of conservation easements as a advantageous tax deduction. In his article “Trump’s Golf Courses Expose Conservation Quagmire”, published to LANDTHINK last March, James clearly explains how Donald Trump takes the utmost advantage of the tax break on many of his golf course and other properties. James clarifies that “Donald Trump availed himself of the benefit of conservation easements in a way that was neither illegal nor much different than many other land owners in the United States.”

Here is the final tally:

April 2016 LANDTHINK Pulse Results

  • 74.5% said NO
  • 25.5% said YES

Thank you to everyone who participated and shared the Pulse with friends and connections in the land industry.

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1 Comment

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  • We have a simple illustration to differentiate a golf course from habitat:

    For a garden hose of water you have a choice: 1) an acre of pond or lake if designed correctly is filled with native fish, amphibians and thousands of rare wildflowers, or 2) an acre of fairway that will feed geese and leach excessive nutrients into the surface aquifer. Goose hunters do not get a vote in this… Which of these two sounds more like habitat?

    While golf courses can be attractive to the sub/urban eye, they don’t offer much for wildlife other than grass and a drink out of a water hazard. ( by the way, we are not “greenies”. We are hard corp Biologists who only follow real science)

Pulse Question

Should game wardens have the right to search and surveil private property without a warrant?


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