Conservation Easements – Not A Positive Force in Virginia – Week 6

 

As a true believer in free market capitalism being the best way to allocate resources, I would like to provide you a very brief summary of some of the most serious negatives associated with Conservation Easement Tax Credits. Here is the fifth of the six worse negatives:

There are Better Uses of the Taxpayers’ Money:

$100M a year for 15 years is $1.5 Billion that we Virginians have invested in Conservation Easement Tax Credits. What exactly have average taxpayers in Virginia gained from $1.5 Billion of our taxes being spent for conservation easements?

There are some historic structures and historic tracts that have been preserved for future generations. But I know of other tracts now covered by Conservation Easements which are not unique and did not deserve preservation. There are some areas of Virginia where the wealthy simply do not want neighbors and have utilized conservation easements to prevent development in their area.

My educated guess is that much of the money we taxpayers have invested in Conservation Easements has been a total waste of taxpayer money. It would be interesting to know how many are based on erroneous appraisals.

Every time I think of Conservation Easement Tax Credits, I find myself wondering exactly how much better off the average Virginian would be if that $1.5B spent on Conservation Easements had been invested in statewide fiber optic cable, upgrading utility infrastructure, school systems, etc.