Mountanos v. Commissioner (Mountanos II)

U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit, No. 14-71580, June 1, 2016: Upholds Tax Court decision about highest and best use.

In the Tax Court decision Mountanos v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2013-138, June 3, 2013 (Mountanos I), the tax court agreed with the IRS that a federal tax deduction should not be allowed for a conservation easement Mountanos [...]

Kaufman v. Commissioner (Kaufman V)

Court of Appeals, 1st Circuit, No. 14-1863, April 24, 2015: Penalty upheld for gross valuation misstatement.

The Kaufmans’ claim of a federal income tax deduction for donating a historic preservation easement (“preservation restriction” in Massachusetts) was denied after multiple court proceedings culminating in the Tax Court finding that the value of the easement was zero and that [...]

Zarlengo v. Commissioner

U.S. Tax Court, T.C. Memo. 2014-161, August 11, 2014: Recording of NY easement determines date of compliance with tax regs. Substantial compliance with appraisal date requirement adequate.

Marco Zarlengo (“Zarlengo”) and his ex-wife Merilyn Sandin-Zarlengo (“Sandin-Zarlengo) signed a “facade conservation easement” (historic preservation easement) in 2004, and it was recorded in 2005. They each claimed a qualified [...]

Schmidt v. Commissioner

U.S. Tax Court, 2014 TC Memo 159, August 6, 2014: Court makes its own valuation of conservation easement contribution.

At issue was the valuation of a conservation easement for the purposes of a federal income tax deduction for a “qualified conservation contribution.”  Both the taxpayer/petitioner and the IRS (respondent) introduced expert testimony and questioned the credibility of [...]

Scheidelman v. Commissioner (Scheidelman IV)

US Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit, No. 13-2650, June 18, 2014: evidence supports Tax Court; easement had no value for charitable contribution purposes.

The IRS denied Scheidelman a charitable deduction for a façade easement on a property in a New York City historic district. The Tax Court sided with the IRS in Scheidelman v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. [...]

Palmer Ranch V. Commissioner

U.S. Tax Court, T.C. Memo. 2014-79, May 6, 2014: Rezoning history to old to affect highest & best use of conservation easement land; no penalty assessed.

At issue was the fair market value of a donated qualified conservation contribution based on the “highest and best use” of the land before imposition of the conservation easement. The appraisal [...]

Kaufman v. Commissioner (Kaufman IV)

U.S. Tax Court, T.C. Memo 2014-52, March 31, 2014: Façade Easement had zero value; penalties imposed.

The issues in this case about the federal tax deduction for a “qualified conservation contribution” (a historic preservation façade easement) were principally the valuation of the façade easement and what, if any, penalties the taxpayer should pay for misstating the value [...]

Esgar Corporation v. Commissioner (Esgar II)

U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, No. 12-9009, March 7, 2014: Highest and best use in easement appraisal must be most reasonably probable in the reasonably near future.

Esgar appealed the decision of the Tax Court in Esgar v. Commissioner (Esgar I), US Tax Court, 2012 TC Memo 35, February 6, 2012. In Esgar I the Tax [...]

Friedberg v. Commissioner (Friedberg II)

U.S. Tax Court, T.C. Memo. 2013-224, September 23, 2013: Appraisal deemed “qualified” on reconsideration, based on Scheidelman II decision.

 This case is a reconsideration of the Tax Court’s decision in Friedberg v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2011- 238 (Friedberg I) in light of the US 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Scheidelman v. Commissioner, 682 [...]

Pesky v. US (Pesky III)

Dist. Court, D. Idaho, No. CIV. 1:10-186 WBS, July 8, 2013: Conservation easement deduction fraud penalty dismissed, other issues go to trial.

This decision is on motions for summary judgment (to decide the issues in question without proceeding to a trial about them) in the dispute between the IRS and the Peskys about whether, in light of [...]

Scheidelman v. Commissioner (Scheidelman III)

U.S. Tax Court, T.C. Memo. 2013-18, January 16, 2013: Finds historic preservation façade easement in historic district did not diminish value of property.

The IRS denied Scheidelman a charitable deduction for a façade easement on a property in a New York City historic district. The Tax Court sided with the IRS in Scheidelman v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. [...]

TROUT RANCH, LLC v. COMMISSIONER (Trout Ranch II)

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, No. 11-9006, August 16, 2012: Upholds Tax Court’s value of conservation easement & use of evidence.

In the Tax Court case (Trout Ranch I, T.C. Memo. 2010-283; No. 14374-08, December 27, 2010. http://preservationlawdigest.com/2010/12/30/trout-ranch-llc-v-commissioner/), the taxpayer argued that only the comparable sales appraisal method could be used because data on sales [...]

BUTLER v. COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE

United States Tax Court, T.C. Memo. 2012-72, March 19, 2012: Where taxpayer presented credible evidence that reserved rights were not inconsistent with conservation purposes and IRS presented none to contrary, taxpayer satisfies burden of proof despite sparse record; state law determines whether unrecorded baseline documents may be incorporated by reference in conservation easement; appraisal revised by [...]

Cohan v Commissioner of Internal Revenue

US Tax Court, T.C. Memo. 2012-8, Jan. 10, 2012: A charitable organization’s contribution acknowledgment letter that omitted items of value the taxpayer received in consideration was not a valid acknowledgment letter, the taxpayer did not act reasonably in relying on the letter, and therefore the taxpayer could not take a deduction for the contribution.

A taxpayer-donor claiming [...]

ESGAR CORPORATION v. COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE

US Tax Court, 2012 TC Memo 35, February 6, 2012: Determines fair market value of conservation easement by analyzing highest and best use and comparable sales, rejecting taxpayers’ claim that highest and best use was other than the properties’ present use.

At issue was the value of property before donation of conservation easements donated as qualified conservation [...]

FRIEDBERG and MOSS v COMMISSIONER

U.S. Tax Court, T.C. Memo. 2011-238, October 3, 2011:  Denies a contribution deduction for a facade easement based on appraisal defects. Holds: appraisal was not qualified because it did not properly apply the comparable sales method to the “after” value; appraisal adequately stated the method and specific basis for the valuation even if wrong; appraisal summary [...]

PESKY v. US (Pesky I)

Dist. Court, D. Idaho, CIV. 1:10-186 WBS, August 29, 2011: Orders production of landowner’s attorneys’ documents related to appraisal of conservation easement value, in suit by landowner against US.

The Peskys donated a conservation easement to The Nature Conservancy in 2002. The IRS refused their claim for a qualified conservation contribution tax deduction and assessed a deficiency. [...]

Land Owners United, LLC v. Waters

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Division VII, No. 10CA1006, August 18, 2011: Affirms district court order requiring state to disclose records about an investigation of conservation easements appraisals used to obtain Colorado tax credits.

The Colorado Division of Real Estate and the Board of Real Estate Appraisers (collectively the Board), in connection with a statewide investigation of [...]

Trust for Architectural Easements Barred from Certain Easement Activities

Washington, DC, July 13, 2011: The US District Court for District Of Columbia has enjoined Trust for Architectural Easements from various activities regarding historic preservation easements in a civil suit brought by the Justice Department on behalf of the IRS.

A DOJ press release summarizes the injunction as follows:

“The injunction order bars the defendants from promoting the [...]

Boltar v Commissioner of Internal Revenue

US Tax Court, 136 T.C. No. 14, April 5, 2011: Holding that that the Tax Court judge has the same discretion as in a jury trial whether to receive evidence using standards of reliability and relevance, the Tax Court agreed with the IRS to entirely exclude taxpayer’s appraisal from trial record as “unreasonable, unreliable, and irrelevant [...]