Donating land for conservation purposes to Turtle Island Restoration Network and Salmon Protection And Watershed Network (SPAWN) is a straightforward process. This process ensures clear communication between the potential donor and Turtle Island Restoration Network (TIRN). We have developed this series of steps to familiarize you with the process and to answer questions about the timeframe and costs.
When thinking about a gift of land to TIRN, prospective donors should speak to their legal counsel and tax advisors about their personal circumstances. TIRN is unable to give tax or legal advice.
Initial Property Walk-Through: If TIRN is unfamiliar with the property, most often it is beneficial for the organization and potential donor to meet at the property and walk through it to determine and discuss mutual goals and history of the land.
TIRN Management Review: If there is agreement to proceed, TIRN’s management and stewardship staff will visit the property in order to determine if it fits strategically with TIRN’s own goals for conservation. For example, TIRN would take into consideration: proximity to other properties owned and/or protected open space parcels or corridors; conservation values, etc.
Due Diligence: The next step is for TIRN staff to begin the work of due diligence and obtaining property details, including assuring a clear title to the property, conducting appropriate environmental assessments, and determining a clear description of the bounds of the property through existing or new survey work. For conservation easements, TIRN prepares a Baseline Documentation Report for the property, recording the condition of the land at the time of the easement, and its conservation values and public benefits, by means of maps, photographs, and other written reports. Copies of documents are kept by both the easement donor and TIRN in their permanent records for future reference. For outright land gifts, TIRN may prepare a property management outline, which will be used to guide the development of a post-transaction plan to manage the land in the future.
Contractual Agreements Drafted: TIRN works with the donor and their advisor(s) to define the terms of the gift of land or conservation easement, producing draft deeds for review by all parties.
Closing: When all of the terms have been satisfactorily agreed upon, and a final deed is ready to be recorded, TIRN will set up a closing, where the deed (and baseline documentation report if a conservation easement) is signed, notarized, and properly recorded with the County Clerk.
As soon as TIRN takes possession of a property and the ownership transfer is finalized, we complete all necessary paperwork and mail everything you will need to declare your tax deduction. The turnaround time for this step depends on the speed at which we receive information from the donor and their advisor(s) and of the county – usually completed in 2 to 5 weeks.
The timeframe to complete this process is 1-3 months. The timing depends on availability of key documents and information, and the complexity of the transaction.
There are some costs associated with donating land or a conservation easement to TIRN. Generally, the landowner would be expected to be responsible for the items needed for conveyance, including survey costs, appraisal (if required), legal and recording fees, due diligence fees such as title search and hazardous waste review (if applicable).
When TIRN accepts ownership of a property, it also undertakes a responsibility for the ongoing stewardship and maintenance of the property. TIRN therefore asks that a donor contribute to its Land Stewardship Fund, to help the organization meet its obligation of maintaining the land in perpetuity. Such a contribution may be tax-deductible to the donor.
Charitable Income Tax Deduction
If a donor is seeking a charitable income tax deduction for a land or easement donation, an appraisal is required and the responsibility of the donor.
An IRS Form 8283, signed by the appraiser and TIRN, must be attached to the federal income tax return on which the deduction for the contribution is first claimed. This form, available from the IRS’s website, asks for information required by Treasury Department regulations. It should first be completely filled out, signed by the appraiser, and then sent to TIRN for the organization’s authorized signature.
The appraisal procedure and report must conform to specific IRS standards and cannot be made earlier than 60 days before the date of the gift. See Treasury Regulations §1.170A-13(c) and §1.170A-14(h) for more detail.