Conservation easement errors

In last week's cover story, "Scenic treasure: How conservation lines the pockets of the rich," the following were incorrect or deserving of clarification:

  • An editing error made Virginia Outdoors Foundation spokesman Jason McGarvey appear to oppose changing the secrecy law that prevents the public from knowing how much an easement donor gets in tax credits. McGarvey says he has no opinion on that law (and adds that if the public feels uncomfortable with current privacy laws, they should contact legislators and the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council).
  • Piedmont Environmental Council was founded in 1972, not 1966.
  • Piedmont Environmental Council does not spend half a million dollars annually on lobbying. The organization is allowed to spend up to $525,000 ias a 501(c)(3), according to its 2009 IRS form 990, but its actual expenditures that year were $120,467.
  • The Land Trust Alliance does not accredit land trusts, as the story stated, but established an independent nonprofit, the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, to do so.
  • The original version of the tax credit reform legislation in the General Assembly called for licensing the transfer agents who handle the tax credits. That part of the bill was not in the final version that passed the House and Senate, but the bill does allow the Department of Taxation to get a second appraisal before issuing tax credits.
  • The amount of the federal tax deduction for conservation easements was incorrectly characterized as 35 percent for top income brackets. The federal deduction in 2011 is actually a potentially more generous 50 percent of adjusted gross income– 100 percent of gross income for farmers and ranchers– for up to 15 years.