House Bill 1353 Documents
Increasing Accountability and Oversight of Conservation Easement Tax Credits
House Bill 1353 Summary
The drafting of HB 1353 was guided by the Colorado Conservation Easement Tax Credit Task Force, led by Representative Alice Madden and Senator Jim Isgar. The task force, which met in late 2007, included legislators, landowners, state and local officials, and land trusts. The task force worked to supplement reforms enacted last year in HB07-1361, which increased the standards, transparency and accountability for conservation easements. HB 1353 will provide another layer of assurances that landowners and land trusts or other holders of conservation easements are appropriately protecting property and accurately assessing the value of conservation.
HB 1353 will increase accountability and oversight of the state's conservation easement tax credit program through five main components.
1. Increase accountability for conservation easement appraisals
Appraisers are required to submit conservation easement appraisals to the Colorado Division of Real Estate. The appraisals will be accompanied by an affidavit signed by the appraiser noting certain requirements have been met. The Division will review the information and the Board of Real Estate Appraisers will impose suspensions or other penalties if the Division finds wrongdoing. The Board also will establish education and experience requirements for all appraisers who complete a conservation easement appraisal for a state income tax credit.
2. Certify conservation easement holders (i.e. state, local governments and land trusts)
The Division of Real Estate and a newly formed Conservation Easement Oversight Commission will develop a certification program for entities that hold conservation easements. The Commission will establish qualifications for certification and will review at an entity's process for approving an easement, its system of governance and its financial stability. Only landowners who work with a certified entity can qualify for the tax credit.
3. Strengthen oversight and enforcement of the state tax credit
The Department of Revenue will be authorized to share information with other state agencies that have relevant expertise, as well as with the Conservation Easement Oversight Commission, to ensure that it has the resources to address any concerns about information contained in a tax credit application. Taxpayer confidentiality will be maintained.
4. Create a Conservation Easement Oversight Commission
This Commission will advise the Division of Real Estate and Department of Revenue and, along with the Division of Real Estate, administer the easement holder certification program. The Commission will have nine members with representatives from: Great Outdoors Colorado, the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, the Colorado Department of Agriculture, a local land trust, a state or national land trust, a local government open space or land conservation organization, an historic preservation group, a certified general appraiser with conservation easement experience and a landowner who has donated a conservation easement.
5. Create a one-year holding requirement
Mirrors the IRS limitation on the value of a qualified conservation contributions for property held less than one year."