Permanent Conservation Easement Largely Upheld.

The petitioners, a married couple, bought a 40-acre tract within the Pike's Peak viewshed.  They also owned another adjacent 60 acres and sought to plat both tracts as a subdivision with a 2.5 acre size limitation per lot.  Before platting the property, the petitioners  granted a conservation easement on the 40-acre parcel with a development size restriction of one lot of 40 acres.  The pre-easement value as established by the petitioners' appraiser was $1.6 million and the post-easement value was $400,000.  The IRS originally disallowed the entire deduction due to a failure to satisfy I.R.C. Sec. 170, but later conceded that the Code requirements were satisfied and then challenged the appraised values.  The Tax Court determined that the petitioners' appraised values were closer to what the court determined were most accurate.  The result was that the petitioners were entitled to a charitable deduction of over $1.1 million and no penalties or interest.  Schmidt v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2014-159.

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