Retained Right To Change Property Boundary Blows Conservation Easement Deduction

The petitioner donated a perpetual conservation easement on 22 acres to qualified charity - the North American Land Trust.  The easement grant, however, allowed the petitioner to make "minor alterations to the boundary of the Conservation Area" if certain requirements were met within the first five years of the grant.  The petitioner claimed a charitable deduction for the contribution and the IRS denied the deduction.  The court agreed with the IRS because the easement was not a "qualified real property interest" as defined by I.R.C. Sec. 170(h)(2)(C) because the petitioner could change the property subject to the easement.  The court noted that I.R.C. Sec. 170(h)(2)(C) specifies that a "qualified real property interest" is one that involves an identifiable, specific piece of real property.  The retained right to change the property boundaries violated that requirement.  Balsam Mountain Investments, LLC, et al. v. Comr., T.C. Memo. 2015-43.

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