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 [...]


Mass.  Appeals Court, 13-P-1050, November 10, 2014: Agricultural buy-local organization exempt from real estate tax.

On appeal from the state’s Appellate Tax Board, the court held that Community Involved In Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) is entitled to exemption from local property tax on land it owns and occupies for its programs. At issue was whether the dominant purpose [...]



North Carolina Court of Appeals, No. COA13-1447, August 19, 2014: property not wholly and exclusively used for educational or scientific purposes subject to property taxes

The court accepted findings of substantial retail and commercial activity on the property, including profit from retail sales in excess of [...]

Francis Small Heritage Trust Inc. v. Town of Limington

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine, No. YOR-13-511, August 7, 2014: land fully devoted to conservation and free public access is tax exempt.

The Trust owns eleven contiguous parcels of land on and near Sawyer Mountain in Limington. Eight of the parcels are open space properties which are protected by conservation easements enforceable by third parties, including easements [...]

Chandler v. Commissioner

U.S. Tax Court, 142 T.C. 16, May 14, 2014: Preservation easement valuation zero in historic district. 2006 carryover deduction claim subject to accuracy penalty.

At issue was the valuation for federal income tax deduction purposes of historic preservation façade easements on two single-family residences in Boston’s South End Historic District.  The question was whether the burdens imposed [...]

NEFF v. Board of Assessors of Hawley

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, No. 11432, May 15, 2014: Nonprofit’s forest conservation land entitled to property tax exemption.

New England Forestry Foundation, Inc. (NEFF) is a nonprofit corporation, whose purposes include to “create, foster, and support conservation, habitat, water resource, open space preservation, recreational, and other activities” by “promoting, supporting, and practicing forest management policies and techniques [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

Averyt v. Commissioner

US Tax Court, 2012 TC Memo 198, July 16, 2012: Conservation Easement wording meets tax tests for contemporaneous written acknowledgment of gift.

The taxpayers made a donation of a conservation easement to a qualified conservation organization through a limited liability company, CMT. The donee sent a letter acknowledging the gift. The letter was timely, but did not, [...]

Kaufman v. Commissioner (Kaufman III)

US Court of Appeals 1st Circuit, Nos. 11-2017, 11-2022, July 19, 2012: Kaufman II overturned; mortgagees may reserve insurance proceeds; remand for valuation.

The First Circuit vacated the Tax Court decision in Kaufman II (except on the uncontested issues of deductibility of cash contributions and accuracy-related penalty associated with the cash contribution claim) and remanded the case [...]

Mitchell v. Commissioner (Mitchell I)

US Tax Court, 138 T.C. No. 16, April 3, 2012: The so-remote-as-to-be-negligible standard of Treasury Regulations cannot be used to excuse the failure to comply with a particular requirement of Treasury Regulations for a qualified conservation contribution. In this case, the taxpayer failed to obtain a subordination of a mortgage to a qualified conservation contribution at [...]

Rolfs v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue II

US Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit, No. 11-2078, February 8, 2012: Upholds the Tax Court decision that value of house donated to fire department on condition it be destroyed did not exceed the fair market value of the benefit the taxpayer received in return by house’s destruction.

The opinion upholds the decision of the Tax Court in [...]


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 [...]

IRS: Easement Audit Techniques Guide

The Internal Revenue Service publishes a “Conservation Easement Audit Techniques Guide” online at http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=249135,00.html#_Toc223. The publication was last revised September 30, 2011, and last reviewed by the IRS November 22, 2011. The Guide begins with a table of contents in hypertext linked to the chapters of the Guide, reproduced below. In addition to summaries of the many requirements 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 [...]

DiDonato v Commissioner of Internal Revenue

US Tax Court, 2011 TC Memo 153, June 29, 2011: Tax deduction for conservation easement donated to county denied because owner-county conditional settlement agreement calling for donation was not an “acknowledgment” of the donated property as required by Internal Revenue Code section 170(f)(8).

The taxpayer settled a dispute with the county government by entering into a settlement [...]


US Tax Court, T.C. Memo. 2011-109, May 23, 2011: Follows the holding in Tempel v. Commissioner (US Tax Court, 136 T.C. No. 15, April 5, 2011), that Colorado State conservation easement tax credits are capital assets that qualify for capital gain treatment and the holding period for the assets sold begins at the time that the [...]

1982 East, LLC v Commissioner of Internal Revenue (aka Asser v Commissioner)

US Tax Court, T.C. Memo. 2011-84, April 12, 2011: Denies preservation easement tax deduction because local law already protects property and because mortgage subordination reserves insurance and condemnation proceeds priority to lender.

The taxpayer/petitioner donated a façade easement and “unused development rights” (UDRs) to Trust for Architectural Easements (formerly known as National Architectural Trust) on a townhouse [...]


US Tax Court, 136 T.C. No. 15, April 5, 2011: Holds transferable Colorado conservation easement tax credits are a capital asset, but the transaction costs to establish the easement are not basis of the asset, and asset holding period began only when the easement donation was complete and the credits were granted by the state.

The Petitioner, [...]

Virginia Historic Tax Credit Fund 2001 LP v Commissioner of Internal Revenue

US Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, Nos. 10-1333, 10-1334, 10-1336, March 29, 2011: Reverses the US Tax Court and holds that certain transactions between a partnership to market Virginia historic rehabilitation tax credits and its partners amounted to taxable sales for purposes of federal tax law.

The following are excerpts from the Miller & Chevalier Tax Appellate [...]