A donation of land may be the simplest way to arrange outright transfers of title, because no financing or negotiations about price are necessary. The landowner obtains approval from the agency or organization to which it will be given, and then deeds the land to that recipient.
Donations, by definition, rely on the fact that the landowner is willing to support the mission of West Wisconsin Land Trust at the cost of giving their land away, without direct financial compensation. However, there may be tax benefits from the gift which help offset some of the loss. Benefits may include reduced real estate, income, and estate taxes.
When the recipient of a land donation is a government agency or a publicly-supported private charity, the donor may be eligible for an income tax deduction for the fair market value of the land as determined by a qualified appraiser. In some cases, the landowner may want to donate the land in installments or partial interests over a period of years to maximize the benefit of the deduction.
Land trusts review proposed gifts of land carefully, for they are becoming increasingly aware of the financial and management responsibilities that come with the ownership of the land. They must look upon gifts of land in light of the conservation values and their ability to hold, care for and manage the land properly.
Some organizations encourage the establishment of endowment funds when a property donation is made in order to meet the management costs. A donation of funds or a bequest to the agency or organization with whom you are working should be considered to help with future management of the land.
We suggest you contact your financial advisor and/or attorney when considering a donation of land.
~ Aldo Leopold
“That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics.”