Most of my posts on this blog relate to issues that are primarily of concern to landowners seeking to conserve their land. However, I also represent a couple of land trusts (along with several other nonprofits having nothing to do with land conservation), and I know that many of my loyal readers are in the land trust community. Land trusts must qualify as 501(c)(3) organizations in order to receive donations of conservation easements. In order to maintain its 501(c)(3) status, a land trust must file certain annual paperwork with the IRS. And it is now that time of year. So, as a reminder to those of you in the land trust community:
Your annual Form 990 is due to the IRS this Monday, May 15. This assumes that your land trust is a calendar-year filer for tax purposes. If your land trust has a fiscal year that does not end in December, you will have a different due date. If you are not sure whether your land trust has filed its 2016 Form 990 yet, you can check its filing status using the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Select Check tool.
For more information, you might wish to read the article that Forbes published yesterday on the Form 990 filing requirements.
The IRS has now officially modified Notice 2017-10. Notice 2017-10, which was released on December 23, 2016, had the primary purpose of designating certain syndicated conservation easement transactions as being “listed transactions.” This designation retroactively imposed additional reporting requirements on landowners and others who participated in these syndicated conservation easement transactions.
Late yesterday afternoon, however, the IRS released Notice 2017-29. Notice 2017-29 amended Notice 2017-10 in two important ways. Continue reading IRS Amends Notice 2017-10 Relating to Syndicated Partnerships
Earlier today, December 22, 2016, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the IRS may proceed in its investigation into allegedly overvalued conservation easement appraisals prepared by a Georgia appraiser. Specifically, the appraiser will be required to provide the IRS with his client lists and other information from his files. Continue reading Clower: IRS Investigation Into Abusive Appraisals May Proceed
In a split decision released on November 30, 2016, the U.S. Tax Court has ruled against Lawrence and Lorna Graev’s latest legal challenge against the IRS. Specifically, the Tax Court held that the Graevs could properly be assessed a 20% penalty for substantial underpayment of tax. This was in connection with the Graevs’ failed attempt to claim a deduction for the façade easement that they had donated to the National Architectural Trust in 2004. The Tax Court had previously denied this charitable deduction in a 2013 decision—the infamous “side letter” case. Continue reading Graev II: Tax Court Upholds 20% Penalty in “Side Letter” Case
On January 4, 2016, the U.S. Tax Court released an opinion denying the tax deduction for the façade easement at issue in Gemperle v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2016-1. This tax deduction was denied mainly because the landowners did not attach the required appraisal to their federal tax return. Let’s take a closer look at this case. Continue reading Failure to Attach Appraisal Fatal to Façade Easement Deduction in Gemperle