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Home Trying Times: Conservation Easements and Federal Tax Law

Trying Times: Conservation Easements and Federal Tax Law 2024

Virtual Program - Wednesday, July 31, 2024

11:00am-3:00pm ET/10:00am-2:00pm CT/9:00am-1:00pm MT/8am-Noon PT

This four-hour program will address the latest case law and IRS guidance impacting conservation easements. Experts will offer practical advice to land trust staff and board members, government employees, attorneys, appraisers, and landowners. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear the IRS’s perspective and ask questions of a diverse group of panelists who collectively have almost 200 years of experience with conservation easements and tax incentives. Each of three panel presentations will be followed by time devoted solely to Q&A.

This program will be streamed live (available as audio and video, or just audio). If July 31 does not work for your schedule, a recording of the program will be made available for a period of time after the event to those who register.

4.0 hours Utah CLE (pending). Utah online attendees will need to apply for self-study CLE credits. For CLE in other states, attendees must apply directly to the relevant state bar. We cannot guarantee that other state bar requirements will be satisfied and have set the registration fee accordingly.

Register »

General Public:
$30 Early Bird (ends July 15)
$45 after July 15
Students complimentary

Here are just a few of the comments we received from attendees last year:

        • I found the topics and discussion extremely informative - especially for land trust staff, related professionals, and those donating/selling/inheriting easements. Amazing collaboration between professionals, academics, and IRS representatives. GREAT WORK!
        • This is one of, if not the, best course I take every single time. Thanks!
        • Great job and organization, covering a lot of information; very helpful to understand the different perspectives provided by the panelists.
        • Thank you for a wonderful program full of timely information and clear and candid observations. I appreciated the reference to key cases and regs and hearing experts discuss the nuances and ambiguities. I feel I am in a much better position to educate and advise our clients.
        • The presenters were great!
        • HUGE kudos for getting TWO IRS spokespeople who actually addressed topics substantively!
        • Excellent program!!!!!!!!!!


        • Karin Gross, Special Counsel, IRS Office of Chief Counsel
        • Stephen J. Small, Esq., Law Office of Stephen J. Small, Esq., P.C., Massachusetts
        • Gerald R. Barber, Conservation Easement Appraiser, Land Planner, and President/Founder of Barber and Mann, Inc.
        • Wendy Fisher, Executive Director, Utah Open Lands
        • Jeanie McIntyre, President, Upper Valley Land Trust
        • Nancy A. McLaughlin, Robert W. Swenson Professor of Law, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law

Topics to be covered (subject to change based on developments):

    • New case law and IRS developments of note regarding:
        • Proceeds regulation invalidity–in some places
        • Prior claims
        • Baseline documentation missteps
        • Form 8283 missteps
        • Conservation purposes
        • Movable building sites
        • Reserved rights
        • State Attorney General enforcement
        • Property as inventory; deduction limited to basis
        • Valuation
              • Tax Court gets religion on valuation methods, highest and best use, and “fair market value” definition
              • Qualified appraisal and qualified appraiser rules
              • The “donor knowledge” regulation
    • Dealing with NRCS ACEP-ALE “minimum deed terms” that are not consistent with the IRS’s “safe harbor” provisions on extinguishment and proceeds
    • New IRS Form 8283 and Instructions
    • Implications of new 170(h)(7) rules for nonsyndicated transactions

Speaker Bios

Karin Gross is Special Counsel in the IRS Office of Chief Counsel. She has been involved in much of the litigation and other IRS developments regarding interpretation and enforcement of the § 170(h) deduction for conservation easements donations. She lectures widely in a variety of venues on these issues.

Stephen J. Small is a tax attorney at his own firm, the Law Office of Stephen J. Small, Esq., P.C., in the Boston, Massachusetts area. Before going into private practice, he was an attorney-advisor in the IRS Office of Chief Counsel in Washington, D.C., where he wrote the federal income tax regulations on conservation easements. Mr. Small advises business and individual landowners and is recognized as the nation’s leading authority on private land protection options. He has worked directly on matters that have resulted in the protection of more than 1.5 million acres around the country. Mr. Small has given more than 400 speeches, seminars, and workshops around the country on tax planning for landowners, succession planning for family lands, and tax incentives for land conservation. He is a member of the Massachusetts and District of Columbia Bars.

Gerard R. Barber is a certified general appraiser, registered landscape architect, and real estate broker. He founded Barber and Mann, Inc. in 2002, and has performed conservation easement and other specialized appraisals and provided real estate consulting on environmentally sensitive lands for landowners, non-profits, and agencies in the Southeast U.S. for the past 22 years. His firm has provided expert testimony in five tax court cases, and is consulting on multiple cases in progress. After 16 years as President of Oak Lane, Inc, a landscape architecture, land planning, and development firm, Gerald served 28 years as the elected Tax Assessor of Madison County, Mississippi. He has volunteered for over 50 years for several state, regional, and national conservation organizations and was Chairman of the National Wildlife Federation Board of Directors from 1998­–2000. To date, he has appraised or reviewed 264 conservation easements and has served as an instructor for multiple conservation easement seminars across the Southeast.

Wendy Fisher is the Executive Director of Utah Open Lands (UOL), an accredited land trust that has preserved over 60,000 acres in the state of Utah. She has more than 30 years of experience with conservation easements and land trusts, having joined with the original Board of Directors in founding UOL in 1990 and served as its Executive Director since 1993. Ms. Fisher and UOL have been recognized as leaders in conservation efforts in Utah and have been awarded many distinguished honors. For example, in 2010, UOL was awarded Utah State University’s Botanical Center’s Environmental Stewardship Award, and in 2016, Ms. Fisher was named Park City Rotary’s Professional Citizen of the Year in recognition of UOL’s successful campaign to save the cherished 1,350-acre parcel known as Bonanza Flat. Ms. Fisher also has served on various state legislative task forces addressing agricultural, trail, and open space preservation issues, and in 2018 she chaired a subcommittee of the Utah Legislature’s Executive Water Task Force. She also gave the opening remarks at Columbia Law School’s 2014 Conservation Easement Conference, co-sponsored by the National Association of Attorneys General Program and the National Association of State Charity Officials. Her story of the protection of Toll Canyon, Managing, Accommodating and Sustaining the Wild, was published in 2018 as part of the Reimagining a Place for the Wild collection of essays, first presented at the Reimagine Western Landscapes symposium held in Montana’s Centennial Valley.

Jeanie McIntyre is the President of the Upper Valley Land Trust (UVLT), an accredited regional land conservancy serving 45 towns in the Connecticut River Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire. UVLT manages a portfolio of over 550 conservation easements, 50 public trails, nine campsites used by Connecticut River paddlers, and 35 conservation areas it owns for educational and recreational use by the general public. Jeanie has been with UVLT since 1987. She is a recipient of New Hampshire’s Andrew L. Felker award in honor of her advocacy for farmland conservation and her work bringing farmers and conservationists together to assure the long term viability of agriculture; Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests’ Sara Thorne award for enhancing the capacity of others to accomplish land conservation; and Audubon Society of New Hampshire’s Tudor Richards award for her love and knowledge of the outdoors and her effective work on behalf of conservation in New Hampshire.

Nancy A. McLaughlin is the Robert W. Swenson Professor of Law at University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. She served as Associate Reporter for the new Restatement of the Law of Charitable Nonprofit Organizations, the first comprehensive source of legal guidance regarding the charitable sector in the U.S. She was a member of the ABA’s Real Property, Trust, and Estate Law Section’s Conservation Easement Task Force, which published a report on conservation easements and federal tax law. She served as Reporter for the Uniform Law Commission’s Uniform Conservation Easement Act Study Committee. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Utah Open Lands (a state-wide land trust), the Habitat Protection Advisory Committee of the Humane Society’s Wildlife Land Trust, and the Lands Protection Committee of Vital Ground (a land trust that conserves and connects habitat for grizzly bears and other wildlife). She also is a Fellow, serves on the Charitable Planning Committee, and served on the Board of Regents of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. Her research focuses on conservation easements, tax incentives, and nonprofit governance issues and she writes and lectures extensively on these issues. She consults with land trusts, landowners, government entities, federal and state regulators, and others regarding conservation easements and nonprofit governance issues. Her articles on conservation easements, which address federal tax issues, valuation, perpetuity, condemnation, merger, enforcement, and other topics can be downloaded here.

Sponsored by the Cultural Vision Fund and Utah Open Land’s Gaining Ground Seminars, in partnership with the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law and its Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources, and the Environment.






For questions about registration or this event, contact Catherine (801-463-6156).
For technology issues or questions, contact Kris (801) 585-3440.