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NYS Conservation Easement Tax Credit

The information on this webpage does not constitute legal or tax advice. DEC recommends discussing land conservation options with legal and tax professionals.

For questions regarding a property's DEC conservation easement identification number, contact DEC's Bureau of Real Property Services at (518) 402-9442 or by email at realprop@dec.ny.gov.

The Conservation Easement Tax Credit (CETC) offers New York State taxpayers a refundable income tax credit on their school district, county, and town property taxes paid during the year. The tax credit is available to owners of land under a conservation easement (CE). The maximum credit available is $5,000. If the landowner's tax credit exceeds the amount he or she owed in state income taxes, the landowner received payment for the difference. For a CE to be eligible, it must be held by a public conservation agency (such as a soil and water conservation district), private conservation organization, or a local municipality such as a village, town or county. The date the easement was created does not matter for eligibility.

Conservation easements were enacted by Title 3 of Article 49 of the Environmental Conservation Law. In order to take advantage of the Conservation Easement Tax Credit, an existing easement must be registered with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). When a conservation easement is registered with DEC, the holder received a unique DEC CE identification number which is assigned specifically to the easement property. This identification number is required when filing the appropriate Conservation Easement Tax Credit claim form with the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance. Landowners wishing to obtain or verify their identification number may do so by contacting DEC's Bureau of Real Property Services at (518) 402-9442 or by email at realprop@dec.ny.gov.

Additional CETC information can be found on the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance website. Some common questions and answers about the CETC can be found below.

Who is eligible for the CETC?

The Conservation Easement Tax Credit s available to owners of conservation easements that qualify under Article 49 of New York State's Environmental Conservation Law. These owners may include individual landowners, estates and trusts (including beneficiaries of an estate or trust), partners in a partnership (including a limited liability corporation that is treated as a partnership for federal income tax purposes), and business corporations taxed under Article 9-A or the Tax Law. The CETC is not available to Subchapter S corporations, not-for-profit corporations, or other kinds of corporations. If you are unsure if you qualify, you may contact the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance.

Are landowners who do not reside in New York State eligible for the CETC?

Yes, as long as the land restricted by the conservation easement is located in New York State. If the landowner lives outside of New York State, they must file a nonresident and part-year resident income tax return to receive their tax credit.

What makes a conservation easement eligible for the CETC?

To qualify for the CETC, an easement must meet several requirements:

  • It must be a perpetual and permanent conservation easement as defined in Article 49 of New York State's Environmental Conservation Law.
  • The easement land must be located in New York State.
  • The easement must be held by a public or private conservation agency.
    • Public conservation agencies include any agency of federal, state, and local governments including soil and water conservation districts, as well as local municipalities such as villages, towns, and counties.
    • Private conservation agencies include not-for-profit land trusts and any other not-for-profit organizations that are involved with land conservation and have the power to acquire interests in real property.
  • The easement must be filed with DEC and have a DEC CE identification number.
  • The easement must comply with Section 170 (h) of the Internal Revenue Code; i.e. it was donated or partially donated (sold for less than fair market value) to a public or private conservation agency.

Does it matter when the easement was created?

No. The CETC applies to all Article 49 conservation easements, regardless of when they were created, provided that they meet the criteria listed above.

Are there easements that do not qualify for the credit?

Yes. The CETC does not apply to non-Article 49 easements such as utility or transportation rights-of-way easements, etc. It also does not apply to easements that were created to obtain subdivision or building permits, or to easements that were required as mitigation. Article 49 conservation easements that were purchased at market value are also ineligible.

What information does a landowner need to claim the CETC?

A landowner will need the following information:

  • A copy of the filed easement
  • Location of the easement-restricted property
  • Date the easement was filed - this date should be listed on the easement document itself, but it can also be obtained from the county clerk's office or the conservation agency that holds the easement
  • Recording information including the county the easement was recorded in, and the liber and page, instrument number or control number - this information can be obtained from the county clerk's office or the conservation agency that holds the easement
  • Name of the public or private conservation agency holding the easement
  • DEC CE identification number assigned to the easement when it was filed with DEC - this information can be obtained from DEC's Bureau of Real Property or the agency that holds the easement
  • County, town, and school district property taxes paid on the easement-restricted land - this information can be obtained from a tax bill or tax receiver, or from your local assessor

More information on this topic can be found on the NYS Department of Tax and Finance website.

Can I still claim the CETC if I have sold the land?

No. Entitlement to the CETC stays with the land. If you have sold the easement-restricted property, you may not claim the CETC. The new owner may be able to apply if the easement meets the eligibility criteria.

What do I do if I find out that the easement was never filed with DEC?

The landowner should contact the holder of the easement (i.e. land trust, town, county, etc.) or DEC's Bureau of Real Property. The easement must be filed with DEC for the landowner to be able to claim the tax credit.

Where can I get more information?

For information regarding your conservation easement, you may contact DEC's Bureau of Real Property at (518) 402-9442 or email realprop@dec.ny.gov. For tax information, please contact the NYS Department of Tax and Finance.


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