No Tax Deduction For Façade Easement.

In this litigation that has generated multiple court opinions, the petitioner donated a façade conservation easement with respect to the petitioner's row house in an historic district in NYC.  Under the terms of the easement, the petitioner could not alter the façade without the permission of the donee and the petitioner was required to maintain the façade and the balance of the row house.  Under the existing rules of the historic district, the row house was already subject to substantial restrictions on construction and demolition.  In the initial Tax Court decision (T.C. Memo. 2010-151), the Tax Court determined that the petitioner was not entitled to any deduction.  On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (682 F.3d 189 (2d Cir. 2012) upheld the charitable deduction of $59,959 because the petitioner's appraiser sufficiently explained how he arrived at valuation numbers before and after easement restriction.  The court determined that it was irrelevant that the IRS believed that the method employed was "sloppy" or haphazardly applied because the pertinent regulation required only that the appraiser identify the valuation method that was used and did not require that the method be reliabale.  The court held that the appraiser sufficiently supplied a basis for the valuation and the approach used was nearly identical to that approved in Simmons v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2009-208.  In addition, the appraisal provided the IRS with sufficient information to evaluate the claimed deduction.  The petitioner submitted two Form 8283s when combined provided all of the required information and substantially complied with the requirement of the information required to be submitted. The court upheld the charitable deduction for the cash donation to the organization arranging for the donation of the easement (which was required as a condition of facade easement donation).  However, no deduction was allowed for the easement itself because there was no benefit to the taxpayer other than the facilitation of the facade easement.  However, the court remanded the case to the Tax Court to resolve other claims made by IRS.  On remand, the Tax Court (T.C. Memo. 2013-18) held that the petitioner was not entitled to any deduction for the façade easement because the subject property was already subject to substantial restrictions and didn't have any value for purposes of the charitable contribution deduction.  On further review, the appellate court affirmed.  Scheidelman v. Comr., No. 13-2650, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 11941 (2d Cir. Jun. 18, 2014).

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