New permanent tax incentives encourage land conservation

Montpelier >> The Vermont Land Trust is pleased to announce that Congress passed permanent tax incentives that encourage the donation of conservation easements, which limit development on farmland and forests.

Private landowners have protected nearly 136,000 acres in Vermont by generously donating their development rights to the Vermont Land Trust. The new incentives will help landowners get the full potential of their tax benefits when they donate a conservation easement.

Landowners, such as Jean and Eugene Ceglowski of Rupert, who donated their development rights have made a real difference to Vermont's rural landscape. In 2004 the Ceglowskis made their first donation of a conservation easement to the Vermont Land Trust, protecting 111 acres of farmland and managed forestland. In 2011, the Ceglowskis donated the development rights on another 92 acres adjoining their home farm.

As veterinarians, the Ceglowskis have cared for many of Rupert's farm animals and pets. "We want this land to be open for people and animals," says Jean. They raise cows and have a few horses in their pastures. Many people bike or run past their land on the Hudson-Delaware Rail Trail, which passes by the farmhouse. Mill Brook winds through the forestland. Its banks are specially protected to minimize erosion and help keep the water clean.


Landowners who donate a conservation easement are usually able to deduct the value of the development rights, as determined by an appraisal, from their income when filing taxes. Under the previous law, landowners were only able to deduct up to 30 percent of their income over five years. Unfortunately, some people with more modest incomes were not able to take the full deduction.

Now, with the permanent incentives, donors can deduct up to 50 percent of their income over the next 15 years, or until they've deducted the full value of the easement. This change makes it likely that landowners of all income levels will get the full deduction.

When landowners donate a conservation easement, they still own, manage and pay taxes on the land. The easement — a legal tool — limits development on the property by current and future owners.

While there is some funding to protect farmland, there is less available to protect forests. This is why easement donations have been critical in protecting forestland in Vermont.

"Vermont Land Trust can attribute much of our land conservation success to the donation of conservation easements," said Tracy Zschau, conservation director for the Vermont Land Trust. "These are often well-loved family lands that might include fields rented to area farmers, managed woodlots, river frontage or wildlife habitat. It is wonderful to see landowners generosity rewarded by this special tax incentive."

Landowners are also able to conserve land as part of their estate planning. They can use their will to direct a conservation easement donation to be completed after they pass away. Tax incentives are also permanently in place that reduce the taxable value of an estate when this type of donation is made. Those interested in learning more about this should speak to a financial advisor.

Pop-Up @77 Flat begins in May

BRATTLEBORO >> Brattleboro Area Hospice recently announced a new retail and auction experience in Brattleboro: Pop-Up @77 Flat!

On Gallery Walk Fridays beginning in May, and each month to follow through December, a new pop-up auction window will be unveiled at Experienced Goods, the Brattleboro Area Hospice Thrift Shop at 77 Flat Street. Each window will be unique and different and will feature a creatively themed assortment of distinctive riches and other curios. The items in the window will be available for online bidding from midnight of that evening throughout the following month. This is a new spin on its annual Cherished Goods Auction that has traditionally taken place annually in the fall. All proceeds will benefit Brattleboro Area Hospice programs and services.

Pop-up retail, also known as a pop-up store (pop-up shop in the UK, Australia and Ireland) or flash retailing, is a trend of opening short-term sales spaces in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. Pop-Up @77 Flat is a new exciting way to prominently feature the most unique and special items for a limited duration of time.

The Pop-Up @77 Flat experience will begin on Friday, May 6, with a kick off unveiling in front of Experienced Goods. Instruction cards for registering to bid will be available along with a raffle and special favors to those who attend. The months-long event will conclude with a full blown pop up shop and party that will take place in Fall 2016.

In preparation for this event we call out to the community to dig deep into your closets and dressers and pull out the treasures that once meant so much to you but now might mean more to someone else. BAH is looking for smaller items than in the past; specialty nick-knacks and collector curios, scarves, retro clothing, period jewelry, art. Smaller furniture is also welcome.

Call Ann Fielder at 802-254-8174 if you have items for donation.