Court Approves Tax Court's Method in Valuing Conservation Easement and Valuation Amount, but Not Application of Valuation Misstatement Penalty.

This case involves the valuation of an historic structure permanent facade easement donated to charity, and the corresponding charitable deduction.  The petitioner utilized a before-and-after appraisal to value the easement at $7.445 million.  The IRS allowed a $1.15 million charitable deduction and assessed a 40% penalty for gross misstatement of tax.  At the Tax Court, the petitioner's appraiser used replacement cost and the income approach to value the easement and determined the easement value to be $10 million.  The IRS determined the easement to have no value.  The Tax Court utilized the comparable sales method to value the easement at $1.8 million.  On further review by the Fifth Circuit, the court noted that the Tax Court should have included the impact of the easement on an associated building's fair market value and whether penalty was appropriate based on whether the reasonable cause burden of proof test had been satisfied.  On remand, the Tax Court determined that the easement value (and corresponding deduction) were overstated by more than 400%, and that the petitioner failed to establish a basis for valuation or properly utilize the comparable sale approach.  The Tax Court also determined that a gross valuation misstatement had occurred, and that no reasonable cause exception was applicable and that an accuracy-related penalty should be imposed.  On further review by the Fifth Circuit, the court approved the methods that the Tax Court used to value the easement and the amount of easement valuation, but reversed the Tax Court on the imposition of the valuation-related penalty related to the easement because the taxpayer obtained two qualifying appraisals and had the return professionally prepared.  Whitehouse Hotel Limited Partnership, et al. v. Comr., No. 13-60131, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 10963 (5th Cir. Jun. 11, 2014), aff'g. and rev'g., 139 T.C. No. 13 (2012), on rem. from 615 F.3d 321 (5th Cir. 2010), vac'g. and rem'g., 131 T.C. 112 (2008).

CALT does not provide legal advice. Any information provided on this website is not intended to be a substitute for legal services from a competent professional. CALT's work is supported by fee-based seminars and generous private gifts. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the material contained on this website do not necessarily reflect the views of Iowa State University.

RSS​ Facebook Twitter