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Tax and Estate Planning Tax and Estate Planning
The Texas Constitution sets out five basic rules for the property tax:
  1. Taxation must be equal and uniform.
  2. Property must be taxed on the basis of its current market value.
  3. All property is taxable unless a federal or state law exempts it from the tax.
  4. Property owners have a right to reasonable notice of increases in appraised property value.
  5. Each property in a county must have a single appraised value.
The Texas property tax system has four main participants:
  1. The property taxpayer
  2. An appraisal district
  3. An appraisal review board (ARB)
  4. Local taxing units,
Tax and Estate Planning Tax and Estate Planning
There are several kinds of tax benefits available to donors of land or conservation easements.

Federal Tax Benefits

There are two main kinds of federal tax benefits available to conservation donors: federal income tax benefits and federal estate tax benefits.

Federal Income Tax Benefits- Donors of land and conservation easements may claim an income tax deduction under § 170 of the Internal Revenue Code. The exact amount of tax savings depends on several factors:

  • How long the donor has owned the property (benefits are generally greater if owned for more than one year);
  • How the donor has used the property (residence, investment, agricultural);
  • The income of the donor (the higher one’s income, the more one will save on taxes); and
  • The value of the donated property (the more valuable the property, the bigger the deduction).

Federal Estate Tax Benefits - A donor may also save substantially on estate taxes if he donates a conservation easement. Under § 2031(c) of the Code, up to $500,000 may be excluded from one’s taxable estate if he or she had donated a qualifying easement. As with the income tax benefits, the larger the value of the donated easement, the bigger the deduction.

The federal estate tax is currently in great flux. In 2003, any estate of $1 million or more is subject to the estate tax. This number rises gradually and the estate tax is completely phased out in 2010. But in 2011, the estate tax is back, along with the $1 million threshold. It is likely that Congress will revisit the estate tax in the coming years, so it is impossible to make any long-term predictions.

Local Property Tax Benefits

In general, property tax reductions are available for landowners who grant land or a conservation easement. In Maine, property subject to a conservation easement will qualify under the Open Space Tax Program. The landowner must file an application with the local tax assessor, who will then make the final decision on the amount of the reduction.
Tax and Estate Planning Learn more about Tax and Estate Planning
Tax and Estate PlanningUse the Conservation Tax Center's library as your resource for land conservation education and reference. There are a growing number of educational articles written by experienced professionals to introduce you to the general ideas and concepts of the conservation marketplace today. More than just conservation. Topics on Estate and tax planning specific to your real estate assets are addressed in the library. Learn more about how to pass on your property to younger generations. Learn the ins and outs of how to spare your property from sprawl development and keep it in the family.
Tax and Estate Planning Articles Tax and Estate Planning Articles


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This publication is intended to provide basic information on conservation easements for landowners, community leaders, students and other interested individuals. It is not intended, and should not be used, to provide information to guide a particular conservation easement transaction or to substitute for the legal, financial and/or property appraisal planning or assistance that is needed for such transactions

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This publication provides a quick reference on timber tax laws that are important to woodland owners. It presents concise and easy-to-understand explanations of issues related to woodland owners. The intended audience includes woodland owners, loggers, and consulting foresters who need a basic understanding of Federal income tax rules on the management of woodland property. The publication is also a valuable resource for tax practitioners: certified public accountants, tax managers, enrolled agents, attorneys, and tax return preparers who seek a quick overview of timber tax rules.

Since the first income tax Form 1040 appeared in 1913, many timber tax provisions, which are commonly unknown by tax professionals, have been added to encourage management and stewardship of private woodland. This publication is prepared to help woodland taxpayers and their professional advisors learn and use these tax laws.

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Timber damaged or destroyed by hurricane, fire, earthquake, ice, hail, tornado, high wind and other storms are "casualty losses" that may allow timberland owners to claim a deduction on their federal income tax returns.

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Clearly, the motivation for a land conservation transaction is often the desire of the landowner to safeguard the property. However, this objective must be balanced with the need to maximize the return to the landowner. The general perception is that the highest return will be realized from a sale to a developer. 
 
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Almost everyone in forestry has heard of land trusts since they have become a common fixture especially in areas that are rapidly urbanizing. But the unfortunate perception of many forest and farm owners is that land trusts are not to be trusted because their real purpose is to steal private property and pull lands out of production. Nothing could be further from the truth, but critics rely on false ‘private property’ threats to turn land owners away from land trusts even before owners understand how they work. A forest owner who knows how land trusts operate is more inclined to protect lands from development than owners who know little about this highly innovated to protect forest lands from development.

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This comprehensive wildlife management planning guidelines provide detailed information on wildlife property tax deductions, habitat control, erosion control. predator control, how to provide supplemental water, food and shelter, as well as a census for the Edwards Plateau and Cross Timbers & Prairies Ecological Regions.

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It may come as a shock, but there is a sort of symbiotic relationship at work between property owners with conservation easements and the IRS. Hard to believe, I know. We understand that the IRS gives tax breaks for those who protect their property from certain development and use. In special circumstances, these landowners can find tax breaks that many others will not reach, similar to the nectar only available to the unique and capable hummingbirds.

The Landowner, Conservation Easements & the 2010 Roth Conversion. At the beginning of 2010, the $100,000 MAGI (Modified Adjusted Gross Income) limit on Roth IRA conversions was lifted. Individuals that were not able to convert an IRA to a Roth in previous years may now be eligible, and the subject is getting quite a bit of news.

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Take a quick quiz and test your knowledge on conservation easements and learn if they can work for you.
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This publication is intended to provide basic information on conservation easements for landowners, community leaders, students and other interested individuals. It is not intended, and should not be used, to provide information to guide a particular conservation easement transaction or to substitute for the legal, financial and/or property appraisal planning or assistance that is needed for such transactions

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By:

Almost everyone in forestry has heard of land trusts since they have become a common fixture especially in areas that are rapidly urbanizing. But the unfortunate perception of many forest and farm owners is that land trusts are not to be trusted because their real purpose is to steal private property and pull lands out of production. Nothing could be further from the truth, but critics rely on false ‘private property’ threats to turn land owners away from land trusts even before owners understand how they work. A forest owner who knows how land trusts operate is more inclined to protect lands from development than owners who know little about this highly innovated to protect forest lands from development.

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Take a quick quiz and test your knowledge on conservation easements and learn if they can work for you.
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Tax and Estate Planning Recommended Reading List
Have time to sit down and read more about conservation and estate planning? Peruse our list of recommended books.
View the list »
Tax and Estate Planning Texas Appraisal Districts
Lawmakers created appraisal districts to keep the process of appraising your property separate from the process of levying a tax. We give each local taxing jurisdiction (city, county, school district, utility district, etc.) a list of taxable property, together with the taxable value of each property. The taxing jurisdiction then decides, based on that list, how much tax to levy. The jurisdiction then sends bills and collects the taxes.

The duties of the appraisal district include:

  • The determination of market value of taxable property
  • The administration of exemptions and special valuations authorized by the local entities and the State of Texas
  • Tax rates and ultimately the amount of taxes levied on property are determined by governing bodies of each of the taxing authorities.
  • Mineral, utility and industrial accounts are appraised for the district by Capital Appraisal Group Inc. in Austin, Texas.
  • Real estate and personal property accounts are appraised locally by the district.

Find your local Appraisal District

Tax and Estate Planning Tax and Estate Articles
Introductory & Technical Articles on land conservation and estate and tax planning
For those of you new to land conservation, we have articles to introduce you to the basic concepts. These articles will help you understand the federal and state tax and estate planning issues and incentives associated with charitable donations of land and conservation easements. Our library of technical articles and papers addresses current issues and topics for the conservation professional as well. Once you are ready, connect with the local professional advisors to explore options for the future of your land.
Conservation Easement Articles

By: Breana Behrens
Development and cultivation of our country's land must be done wisely to ensure that our country's natural resources remain viable for generations to come. Private landowners, as owners of a majority of our country's land, are the most critical stewards of our nations land and resources. RFF specifically aids farmers, ranchers and forest landowners in the pursuit of conservation of their land and family businesses.  
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Before you can decide what is right for you and your land, review some basic definitions associated with the conservation tools commonly used in estate planning for real estate assets. Read More »


By: Resources First Foundation - RFF

Conservation easements can be a valuable tool to ensure that you can keep your working landscape viable. It is a restriction on the use of your property that is voluntary and modifiable to fit your needs.

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By: Breana Behrens
Almost annually Congress votes on whether to approve an enhanced conservation easement tax incentive. This incentive allows for donors of conservation easements to deduct more of their contribution base and for a greater period of time.  Read More »


The IRS defines in Treasury Regulation 1.170A-14 what a qualified conservation contribution is. Basically, it requires that you donate a qualified real property interest to a qualified organization, which is exclusively for a conservation purpose and in perpetuity. A qualified conservation contribution is an exception to the general rule that you cannot take a charitable deduction for a donation of something less than your whole interest in what it is that you are donating. This exception ensures that you can donate a conservation easement on your land, obtain a charitable deduction, and still be able to use your property as a working farm, ranch or forest. 

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By: Lorie Woodward Cantu
Land stewards can use conservation easements to help manage the future. Conservation easements can be created to protect different natural assets ranging from endangered species and water sources to productive, open space and agricultural land.
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By: Robert Levin

There are several kinds of tax benefits available to donors of land or conservation easements. This article attempts to summarize these benefits and provide some examples of how they work. If you are uncertain about the differences between bargain sales and donations, or conservation easements and whole interests in property, go to the 'Definitions' article for a quick brush up.

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By: Breana Behrens
Placing a conservation easement on your land is a great way to ensure that your land remains in its current state for generations to come. However, in doing so, you are giving up certain rights to your property. Since each conservation easement is different, it is important that you take the time to understand what rights you have and what rights you are giving up. Use the following checklist as an overview on what to look for.  Read More »


By: Lorie Woodward Cantu
Once landowners determine that a conservation easement is the right tool for their land, they have to choose a land trust to hold the easement.
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By: Lorie Woodward Cantu
Determining whether or not to place a conservation easement on a property is a process that offers both opportunities and challenges. Landowners should approach the decision with their eyes open to both.
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By: Lorie Woodward Cantu
“Conservation easements cannot exist without trust between landowners and land trusts,” said Blair Fitzsimons, CEO of the Texas Agricultural Land Trust. “And trust is built when partners communicate openly and uphold their responsibilities. Of course, it is imperative that the responsibilities are delineated and understood early on.”
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Treasury Regulations 1.170A-14 explains that a conservation easement must be for a conservation purpose in order for a donor to recieve a charitable tax deduction. There are four conservation purposes that the IRS will consider valid preservation for; outdoor recreation or education, natural habitat, open space or certified historic structures. 

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By: Jessica Jay

Drafting the conservation easement influences everything about the protected property after the easement’s grant: it guides the landowner’s use of the protected property, it guides Land Trust’s monitoring and stewardship of the property, and it guides Land Trusts enforcement of the conservation easement against the original landowner and all future landowners, forever.

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A simple example illustrates how a conservation easement works in practice. Let’s assume pressure from buyers building vacation homes has pushed the value of land up in recent years to the point where the family is concerned about how the next generation will pay the estate tax bill without selling the land.

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By: Jeremiah P. Cosgrove and Renee J. Bouplon

Based on the belief that a working, commercially-viable, agricultural landscape is the desired long-term land use, and that the soil resource is the foundation for agricultural protection, conservation organizations are realizing that agricultural easements, compared to scenic open space or historic easements, are very different. 

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By: Jeremiah P. Cosgrove and Judy Anderson

Based on the belief that a working, commercially-viable, agricultural landscape is the desired long-term land use, and that the soil resource is the foundation for agricultural protection, conservation organizations are realizing that agricultural easements, compared to scenic open space or historic easements, are very different.

In general, agricultural easements recognize the farmer’s need to be able to respond to a changing agriculture and are written with the knowledge that farmers, perhaps more than any other group of landowners, must make countless decisions on a daily basis about how they work the land, and respond to new market conditions. Timing and flexibility can be critical when deciding if they need to construct a new fence, plant a particular crop, apply nutrients and chemicals, construct or renovate a building, or subdivide or acquire a parcel of land. 

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By: Robert Levin

How does one go about donating or selling a conservation easement.? There is no one right way to go about it. However, the following outline shows the most common steps to the process. Conveying an easement may take anywhere from a few months to a couple years, depending on a variety of factors. The landowner usually must pay for basic legal expenses, and appraisal, and in many cases is asked to make a stewardship donation to ensure that the land remains protected forever. Although the following outline discusses easements, a similar process typically applies to donations of whole interests in land as well.

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By: California Rangeland Trust
This document outlines agricultural conservation easments and identifies specific provisions that can be added. Read More »


By: Breana Behrens
To obtain a charitable deduction for the donation of your land for a conservation purpose the IRS requires that you donate it in perpetuity. The conservation easement that you draft must also last for that long. But, what happens when in ten, one hundred, or a thousand years things change? While there is substantial debate on how to end, modify, or transfer a conservation easement, the following quickly explores how it may be done.
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In order to claim a charitable tax deduction for the donation of a conservation easement, you must determine the value of the easement. This is a subjective determination, which makes it a likely for the IRS to challenge it because different appraisers can come to different resulting values very easily. This is why it is very important to ensure that you take the time to find a qualified appraiser and substantiate the value of your donation according to the IRS requirements for a qualified appraisal.

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By: Breana Behrens
In order for the donation of a conservation easement to be eligible for a federal tax deduction, the donor must comply with IRS requirements for record keeping and substantiation.  Read More »


Baseline documentation is a record of what the land subject to a conservation easement looks like at the time of the donation. Maps, descriptions, and pictures of the preserved property and resources are important for outlining the conservation goals of the donor, as well as enforcing the conservation easement and settling future disputes about the use of the land. Baseline documentation is required by the IRS if a donor reserves a right to the land that may impair a protected conservation interest. 

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By: Breana Behrens
Conservation easements must be drafted to ensure the donation will not be inconsistent with other permitted uses of the land.  Read More »


By: Breana Behrens

Not everyone has the legal right to bring a court action to enforce a conservation easement. As a creature of charitable trusts, a conservation easement is donated for the benefit of the general public. However, the general public does not have standing, or the right to be heard in court.

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By: Breana Behrens
A private landowner that would like to sell or retain rights to subsurface gas, oil, or minerals may still be able to place a conservation easement on their surface estate.  Read More »


By: Lorie Woodward Cantu
This Texas Agricultural Land Trust article discusses that conservation easements and oil and gas development may not be mutually exclusive. Read More »


By: Robert Levin
Take a quick quiz and test your knowledge on conservation easements and learn if they can work for you.
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By: T.J. McEvoy

Almost everyone in forestry has heard of land trusts since they have become a common fixture especially in areas that are rapidly urbanizing. But the unfortunate perception of many forest and farm owners is that land trusts are not to be trusted because their real purpose is to steal private property and pull lands out of production. Nothing could be further from the truth, but critics rely on false ‘private property’ threats to turn land owners away from land trusts even before owners understand how they work. A forest owner who knows how land trusts operate is more inclined to protect lands from development than owners who know little about this highly innovated to protect forest lands from development.

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By: Gerald R. Barber

The bundle of rights theory maintains that ownership of a parcel of real estate may embrace a great many rights, such as the right to its occupancy and use; the right to sell it in whole or in part; the right to bequeath; the right to transfer by contract for specified periods of time, the benefits to be derived by occupancy and use of the real estate.

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By: Virginia Forever

Virginia Forever's Five-Year Plan, 2015-2019

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By: Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

Natural Area Dedication is a conservation option available to landowners of highly significant natural areas.

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By: Uniform Law Commission

Although traditional uses of land for industrial, commercial, residential and agricultural purposes have continued, conservation and historic preservation have become important as well. In the effort to accommodate sometimes conflicting interests, various kinds of land use controls have developed from state to state, jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

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By: National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws

The Act enables durable restrictions and affirmative obligations to be attached to real property to protect natural and historic resources.

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By: Colorado Division of Real Estate

First established by state statute in 1976, a conservation easement is a voluntary, legally binding restriction, enforced by a non-profit organization of governmental entity, that limits certain uses and prevents future development of a property.

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By: National Young Farmers Coalition

How land trusts can protect America's working farms.

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By: National Young Farmers Coalition

A farmer's guide to working with land trusts.

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To ensure the continued conservation of natural resources and habitats, it is important to ensure that easements are not simply undone by successors to the original parties after the tax benefits have been realized.  For conservation easements there is an inherent struggle between the IRS requirement of perpetuity and the need for flexibility.  This decision by the Fifth Circuit Court has tremendous relevance for future conservation easements

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By: Thomas Daniels and John Keene

Thomas Daniels and John Keene's new book breaks down the legal principles, federal and state requirements, and the legal issues that affect agricultural land preservation efforts.

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Estate Planning Articles

By: Breana Behrens

Making a plan for your property for when you pass away is not usually an enjoyable task, but it is extremely important, especially for private landowners.  Your land is your legacy and it plays an integral role in the preservation of rural communities and our natural resources.

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By: Aaron J. Lyttle; Cole Ehmke; Mary Martin; Bill Taylor
Many people tend to avoid the discomfort of issues relating to death and dying, including estate planning. Because of this, more than half of Americans lack basic wills. The subject can be unpleasant, but planning now can prevent painful difficulties down the road. It is often a good idea to deal with the topic sooner, rather than later, so everything is in place when you, a family member or other loved one, and possibly even a very close friend, dies. It is always best to consult an attorney, and possibly an accountant, in creating your estate plan. Read More »


By: Farmers' Legal Action Group, Inc.
Brush up on definitions of key estate planning terms.  Read More »


By: Thomas Hall

Create an estate plan to transfer you assets in the way that you want, instead of letting the government and courts decide on who will get your property.

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By: Hembree Brandon
As land prices continue to increase, as well as the value of equipment and other farming assets, it becomes increasingly important to ensure that you have an estate plan to ensure that you do not exceed the federal estate tax exemption and have to pay significant sums to the IRS.  Read More »


By: By Peter Callan, Virginia Tech University
The decision to transfer the management of a family farm should be the culmination of many years of discussion between the older and younger generations. Read More »


By: Barry Amundson
Although complex, estate planning needs to be done to help farmers and ranchers save on taxes and help pass the farm onto the next generation. Read More »


By: Drovers CattleNetwork Staff
Drovers CattleNetwork suggests that ranchers create a handbook that outlines ranch management information to help successfully transfer a family ranch to future generations.  Read More »


By: Breana Behrens
When co-property owners cannot agree on how to share their inherited property, a court can order that the property be split between the owners. This is called partition. Read More »


By: Kylene Scott

At least one out of five farmers doesn’t have a clue what will happen to their farm if they should die or have to stop farming. With the large amount of assets involved in a farming operation, why wouldn’t one have a plan for the continuation of the farm after a death of an operator?

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By: Aaron J. Lyttle; Cole Ehmke; Mary Martin; Bill Taylor
This printable document is a checklist that will guide you through what infrormation you should assemble before meeting with an estate planning attorney Read More »


By: Tim Eggers

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has created an Estate Planning Questionnaire that can help you get ready to meet with an estate planner or attorney. Use it as a guide to get the information that you need together to make a comprehensive estate plan and save time at the lawyers office!

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By: Mississippi State University Extension Service
Basis is used to determine net taxable income from sales of property. This article explains how basis is established, timber accounts, and more for forest landowners. 
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By: Breana Behrens

Making lifetime gifts is one way to transfer your land and can play an important role in your estate planning.

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By: Breana Behrens
Lifetime gifts are eligible for the one time exclusion amount as well as an annual exlusion. This allows you to transfer your assets in small amounts over a long period of time without being subject to gift taxes.  Read More »


By: Breana Behrens

Estate taxes are taxes levied on your property when you transfer it to others upon your death.

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By: Breana Behrens
You can elect to defer and pay an estate tax on a closely held business in installments. Read More »


By: Stephen J. Small, Esq.

The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 and its impact on Section 2031(c) of the IRC. 
 

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By: Ron L. Durst
Farmers and owners of other small businesses hold significant amounts of wealth in the form of business assets and are therefore more likely than other taxpayers to be subject to the federal estate tax. While taxes will vary depending on type and size of the farm, all farmers should take advantage of different planning and tax tools that can minimize or even eliminate estate taxes on their property.  Read More »


By: Breana Behrens

The Internal Revenue Code provides that lifetime gifts and bequests in a will are taken together when determining if the value of your estate exceeds the exclusion amount, and is therefore subject to gift and estate tax.

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By: Breana Behrens
The generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax is applied to transfers made to individuals that are much younger (not in the preceeding generation) than the donor.  Read More »


By: Breana Behrens
The IRC section 2010(c)(2) allows for a spouse's unused portion of their exclusion amount to be added to the surviving spouse's exclusion amount.  Read More »


By: Breana Behrens
The IRC provides a deduction for the value of property in a decedent's estate that that passes to their surviving spouse. Read More »


By: Breana Behrens
A trust is an estate planning tool that allows you to maintain control over the distribution of your property and can help minimize gift and estate taxes.  Read More »


By: James A. Houle, Esq.
A GRAT is an estate planning tool that can help you minimize gift and estate taxes.  Read More »


By: Breana Behrens
A charitable remainder trust (CRT) is a good tool to minimize gift and estate taxes on highly appreciable assets.  Read More »


By: Breana Behrens

A family limited partnership (FLP) is a useful estate planning tool that can help ensure that your family land and business remains whole after you pass.  It can also help minimize gift and estate taxes.

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By: Breana Behrens

A limited liability company (LLC) is a simple and flexible corporation structure that can be used by a private landowner in planning for the succession of their family land and business.

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By: Erin Porta, OSUE Agricultural and Resource Law Extern
Like much of the business world, many Ohio farmers are choosing to operate as Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) to gain personal liability protection for LLC members and ample estate, tax, management and business succession advantages. However, personal guaranties are becoming more common and there are several important points LLC members should keep in mind in order to maintain protections through their LLC.  Read More »


By: Chris Zoller
Many people think owning your own dairy farm and working with family members is easy and brings with it a lot of money — if only that were true! It takes a special person who is willing to get up early, commit to milking cows at least twice each day, and doing this each day of the year.
 
However, family businesses have been, presently are, and will continue to be successful and very rewarding.
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By: Don Hofstrand
Financing is needed to start a business and ramp it up to a profitable operation. There are several sources to consider when looking for start-up financing, but first you need to consider how much money you need and when you will need it. Read More »


By: Karisha Devlin
A farm is more likely to succeed with a written business plan. A business plan serves as a historical account of what has been successful in the past and sets a foundation for your farm's future. It also helps as you pass your farm to future generations. Read More »


By: Aaron J. Lyttle; Cole Ehmke; Mary Martin; Bill Taylor
Wills and trusts can be useful tools for determining who should receive your property after you die. Unfortunately, consulting an attorney to draft and sign these documents can be time-consuming, dull, and expensive. Even after you have finalized your estate plan, these difficulties can arise anew as family circumstances, wishes, and laws change over time. A personal property memoradum can be a helpful tool to add flexability to wills.  Read More »


By: Kylene Scott
Estate planning is one thing, but succession planning is a whole different story. Succession planning is about transferring decision-making. Success for the planning depends on three attributes of the people involved. First, the willingness to work, second discipline and focus, and finally third is the willingness to try new things. Historically speaking, this is not the way ranches, dairies or agricultural operations have been run, but eventually those who are farming or ranching will have to go through the “getting out of the business” process and there needs to be a plan.  Read More »


By: Jessica A. Shoemaker (Farmers' Legal Action Group, Inc.)
For most family farmers, passing a successful farming operation on to the next generation is an important concern. This can ensure children and other surviving family members have a source of potential future income. And, for many family farmers, providing for succession of the farm operation is also essential to maintaining ownership of land that is significant to preserving a particular heritage and way of life. Learn more about managing debt through managing federal farm loans, using bankruptcy to restructure debt, and more. 
Read More »


By: Dennis Fordham
Wealth transfers from parents to younger generations have different tax consequences and should be considered when creating an estate plan.  Read More »


By: Michael D. Duffy
It is important to remember that farming is a business. Like any other business, an individual must look at the advantages and disadvantages of operating a farm and evaluate key aspects: including all parties involved with decisions, resources available and different enterprises. This article outlines three paths for getting started in farming: joining another generation on the farm, inheriting a farm, and part-time or small farming. Read More »


By: Michael D. Duffy
Duffy, an extension economist at Iowa State University, has outlined the basic thought process when inheriting a farm. Many of the final decisions will depend on the nature and location of the land, as well as the number of heirs.  Read More »


By: Chris Bickers

Designing a succession plan for your farm is important in protecting the assets that you've worked so long and hard to acquire.

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By: Michael D. Duffy
This publication will address the question of how to get started and established in farming for those who have (1) made the decision to farm for a living and (2) have the opportunity for a beginning on the home farm. The information presented is focused on the younger generation considering whether to enter into a farming arrangement with parents or family. However, the information is also relevant for the older generation preparing to hand down the farm business.
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By: William Edwards, Don Hofstrand
Farm machinery is an important component of transferring ownership (Information File Business Ownership Transfer Process) from the older party to the younger party. The use and ownership of farm machinery can be transferred from the older party (seller or giver) to the younger party (buyer or recipient) immediately or over several years.
Read More »


By: Breana Behrens
The IRA Charitable Rollover enables taxpayers to make charitable donations directly to qualified chairtbale organizations from their IRAs without counting it as part of their AGI. By doing this, the taxpayer is not required to pay taxes on the amount donated.  Read More »


By: Alan Orlowsky
This article is a look at situations where life insurance can provide value to you and your family in estate planning. Read More »


By: Breana Behrens
Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) programs allow municipalities to purchase the development rights from private landowners. These programs benefit private landowners by putting cash in their pockets, which can be a tool for compensating heirs that do not wish to participate in the family business or own part of the farm, ranch, or forestland.  Read More »


By: Farm Journal Legacy Project
Start thinking about planning for retirement today. This worksheet will help you and your family begin the process of planning for your retirement.  Read More »


By: Farm Journal Legacy Project
When establishing a family employment policy be clear to spell out the criteria for hiring and employing family members. This will help instill a business-like environment for all family members participating in the business and ensures that decisions will be made based on sound business judgment rather than family-induced emotions.

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By: By Peter Callan, Virginia Tech University
All farms will be sold at some time to either a family member or someone else. Who makes the decisions regarding the sale of the farm? Farmer? Banker? Doctor? Planning is critical. The decision to remain in the dairy business and transfer the farm to the younger generation should be the culmination of many years of discussion between the younger and older generations. Does your family talk about the future of the farm? 
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By: Polly J. Dobbs
Too often farming clients misunderstand the estate planning process. This article explores the five common examples of estate-planning-gone-wrong for private landowners.  Read More »


By: Charla H. Bradshaw, KoonsFuller, P.C.
Farm and ranch divorce proceedings may be more complex and involve unique property considerations than more typical divorces. Read More »


By: William Edwards
Many farmers have reduced their machinery costs by owning equipment jointly. This helps smaller operators utilize machinery more ef? ciently and still enjoy the convenience of owning a full line. It also helps younger operators get started with less capital tied up in machinery.
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By: Dennis Stein
As farms manage more gross income, the need for improved financial accounting systems and increased management of farm income becomes necessary. Read More »


By: Aaron J. Lyttle; Cole Ehmke; Mary Martin; Bill Taylor
One of a parent’s greatest fears involves what will happen to his or her minor children in the event of the parent’s premature death or incapacity. Competent adults may also wonder who will ensure their own welfare if they become incompetent. Similar problems can arise when family members and friends lose the ability to take care of themselves due to age or physical or mental infirmity.  Learn more about how to use guardianships and conservatorships to prepare for these situations in this publication.  Read More »


By: Thomas Hall
What happens to your land if you become mentally disabled and unable to make decisions or manage your affairs? Make an estate plan to protect your property. Read More »


By: Aaron J. Lyttle; Cole Ehmke; Mary Martin; Bill Taylor
Creating and signing a will often constitutes the central step in planning one’s estate. Studies indicate that almost half, if not more, of Americans lack basic estate planning documents, including simple wills.1 This bulletin provides a broad overview of how wills operate and suggests some ideas for taking full advantage of them under Wyoming law. Read More »


By: Breana Behrens

Land Link is a valuable program that connects beginning farmers with retiring landowners to faciliate farm transfers. UPDATE: The Land Link Program was retired in 2016 and will be replaced by the Hank Rohling Land Legacy Program. If you have questions or comments, please email Wyatt Fraas, wyattf@cfra.org.

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By: Jeanne Bernick

A buy-sell is just as important as a marriage certificate. (Reposted from Farm Journal Legacy Project)

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By: Gerald R. Barber

The bundle of rights theory maintains that ownership of a parcel of real estate may embrace a great many rights, such as the right to its occupancy and use; the right to sell it in whole or in part; the right to bequeath; the right to transfer by contract for specified periods of time, the benefits to be derived by occupancy and use of the real estate.

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By: William C. Siegel, Harry L. Haney, Jr., and John L. Greene

The purpose of this book is to provide guidelines and assistance to nonindustrial private  forest owners and the legal, tax, financial, insurance, and forestry professionals who serve  them on the application of estate planning techniques to forest properties. The book presents  a working knowledge of the Federal estate and gift tax law as of September 30, 2008, with  particular focus on the unique characteristics of owning timber and forest land. It consists of  four major parts, plus appendices. Part I develops the practical and legal foundation for estate  planning. Part II explains and illustrates the use of general estate planning tools. Part III  explains and illustrates the use of additional tools that are specific to forest ownership. Part  IV describes the forms of forest land ownership, as well as the basic features of State transfer  taxes and the benefits of forest estate planning. The appendices include a glossary and the  Federal forms for filing estate and gift taxes.

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By: Mike Jelinek

Which is Best? Roth vs Traditional IRA.

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By: Mike Wilson

The Sub S corporation simplifies ownership transfer on this multi-enterprise family farm (part 1 of 2)

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By: Mike Wilson

A Subchapter S corporation simplifies ownership transfer on this multi-enterprise family farm (part 1 of 2)

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Conservation Tax news from the Houston Conservation Center
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Google News
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Dallas Business Journal

Texas utility company customers saving billions under tax reform
Dallas Business Journal
Federal tax reform is expected to save investor-owned utility companies billions of dollars over the next five years while their customers get a break on their light bills, a new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Energy Institute shows.




San Angelo Standard Times

San Angelo City Council approves budget for 2018-19 fiscal year
San Angelo Standard Times
The city's property tax rate under the 2018-19 budget is 77.6 cents per $100 evaluation, the same as last year. ... Consider authorizing the City Manager to execute an amendment to the Texas Parks and Wildlife State Boating Access Program 75 percent ...

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Recent editorials from Texas newspapers
Idaho Statesman
"DACA is a popular program and one that Congress should consider saving. ... If the nation truly wants to have a DACA program, it is up to Congress to say so." So wrote Judge Hanen. So say we. ___. The Facts of Brazoria County. Sept. 16, 2018: State ...

and more »



MyStatesman.com

Texas parks department set to buy rugged tract in the Big Bend
MyStatesman.com
The sale would keep virtually all the Big Bend portion of Rio Grande riverfront — habitat for big-horn sheep, mule deer and black bears — in a conservation-oriented state. Construction company CEMEX USA owns a large adjacent parcel ... The Texas ...




The Hill

House GOP bill a mixed bag for retirement savers
The Hill
Nor would the new accounts have IRA-type tax rules encouraging saving to be for retirement or other long-term needs. Moreover, accumulated balances would not be limited, although annual contributions could not exceed $2,500 per individual ($5,000 for ...




Chron.com

Texas utility customers could save $1.2 billion from tax reform
Chron.com
RELATED: Study says tax simplification saving Americans up to $5 billion. The study looked at state-level utility filings made by June 2018 and looked at 12 states including Texas, California, Florida, Alabama, and Michigan. Those five states may see ...

and more »



Washington Examiner

Republicans push to give your savings account a tax cut
Washington Examiner
The other is to save the money and then take it out in the future to spend on consumption, at which point he would have to pay taxes on the saving in the form of interest, dividends or capital gains taxes. The massive tax overhaul that Republicans ...




Dallas News (blog)

Rewilding yards and easements saves tax money and invites the delight of spotting wildlife
Dallas News (blog)
The Airfield Falls Conservation Park was under construction and the quarter-mile-long butterfly walk was complete. ... Texas Parks and Wildlife estimates only 0.1 percent remains, noting it is the most threatened ecology in North America for extinction.




Maryland Sues to Head Off Texas-Led ACA Challenge
HealthLeaders Media
Observers noted that U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor seemed sympathetic to the plaintiffs' argument that Congress rendered at least part of the law unconstitutional when it zeroed out the tax penalty tied to its individual mandate. The Texas-led ...

and more »



Bloomberg

Texas Saved Billions Cutting Special Education. Now the Bill Comes Due
Bloomberg
The federal order is both an opportunity to improve the life prospects of young people with disabilities and a challenge to the low-tax, high-growth, small-government model Texas has pursued while under Republican control. The state and local districts ...


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