The Virginia Land Preservation Tax Credit (LPTC) is the single most effective tool Virginia has to protect farm and forest land, clean air and water, historic and scenic landscapes, and important natural communities and ecosystems. The LPTC provides the Commonwealth and landowners with the right mix of market based incentives, voluntary action, and governmental oversight to create the most effective voluntary land conservation program in the United States.
Unfortunately, over the years there have been cuts to the program and any further cuts could greatly reduce the efficacy of the program and would likely cause a significant reduction in the rate of land protection in Virginia. The LPTC must be maintained at the current level and the annual cap on usage of credits should be allowed to move to $50,000 per taxpayer per year for 2017 and beyond as was passed in 2015.
Quick Facts Regarding the LPTC (view PDF):
- The LPTC has been directly responsible for the conservation of over 741,000 acres of land in the Commonwealth between 2000 and 2015, making the LPTC one of the most successful conservation funding programs in the United States during that time.
- An Effective Tool: A 2012 Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) study determined that the LPTC is one of only two tax preferences in Virginia that “effectively achieves goals”;
- Supporting Virginia’s Major Industries: The preservation of Virginia’s farmland, forest land, and historic, scenic, and natural landscapes through conservation easements ensures the long term protection of the resources that are essential to Virginia’s three major industries; agriculture, forestry, and tourism;
- Protecting Water Quality and Supply: Land conservation plays a critical role in protecting the water we drink. Moreover, the LPTC is vital to Virginia’s ability to meet key state goals under the Chesapeake Bay Agreement, where VOF alone has protected nearly 600,000 acres in the Chesapeake Bay watershed;
- Implementing Local Priorities: Since the Code of Virginia requires that conservation easements are consistent with local comprehensive plans, conservation easements play an important role in helping to achieve long term planning goals such as protection of rural land for agriculture, forestry, and open space and ensuring that land designated for growth remains available for such uses;
- Leveraging Virginia’s Conservation Funding: For every $100 of land preservation tax credits issued, private landowners contribute at least $150 in value to the long term conservation of the Commonwealth’s natural, historic, scenic, and agricultural resources. The LPTC represents a true public/private partnership that significantly leverages the Commonwealth’s investment in conservation;
- Fiscally Sound: The program is fiscally responsible. In 2014, the number of credits allocated to the program was reduced to no more than $75 million per year, which is approximately 0.15% of the state budget.
- Meaningful Incentive: A survey by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation found that the LPTC was essential or important to 87% of conservation easement donors. Changes the program will create uncertainty for landowners, who often face tough decisions about the future of their land, and will likely have a negative impact on the rate of land conservation in Virginia; and
- Administrative Cost Recovery: LPTC transfer fees are used by the Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Department of Taxation to ensure that all land and conservation easement donations provide significant benefit to the Commonwealth and that the value of the credits being claimed are fair and accurate. All evidence shows that conservation easements
All evidence shows that conservation easements and the LPTC program are effective tools for protecting the very lands that are most important to the Commonwealth. The General Assembly should maintain the program in its current state and make no changes in the coming session. Any further cuts to the program would significantly reduce its effectiveness and adversely impact Virginia’s ability to meet multiple local, state, and federal goals.
What You Can Do....
Contact the Senator and Delegate in the Virginia General Assembly and let them know that the you support the Virginia Land Preservation Tax Credit in its current form.
If you don't know who are your representatives are in the General Assembly, you can go to http://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/ to find out the name and contact information for your State Senator and State Delegate.
For More Information
If you need more information, please contact us at PEC.
State Policy Director
540-347-2334 ex. 7040
Director of Conservation
540-347-2334 ex. 7063