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Conservation easements and what they can do for your taxes

Donald Trump is undoubtedly a polarizing figure, particularly these days when you can't go a day without reading a story about him running for office. Regardless of your feelings of Trump as a politician and presidential candidate, he is an established -- albeit controversial -- businessperson from whom other business owners can learn various lessons.

For instance, if you run a business and/or own property in Atlanta, you may be thinking of doing what Trump has done multiple times to take advantage of certain tax breaks. You may decide to use conservation easements to claim deductions.

Conservation easements are held by various parties who agree to let other parties hold an interest in a particular property. This land is then protected and cannot be divided, developed or otherwise used in a way that violates the easement. Owners then get a significant tax break for the appraised value of that land.

However, these deductions can grab the attention of the IRS and spark an audit, especially in instances where the deductions add up to millions of dollars, as is the case with Trump who has claimed easements on golf courses and lavish estates.

When the IRS takes a closer look at specific conservation easements, it can identify serious problems that jeopardize the deductions. Further, building or land owners can face serious penalties if they misuse easements or overstate appraisals. There can also be penalties if a land or property owners fails to comply with the various conditions of a specific easement.

Taking advantage of tax breaks and deductions can save Georgia business owners and individuals a lot of money now and in the long run. However, they can be very complicated and confusing, as is the case with conservation easements.

Before you make a critical mistake that could lead to an audit, it can be a good idea to discuss tax-saving strategies and options with an experienced tax attorney.

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Located in Atlanta, The Peck Group, LC, represents clients nationwide. Regionally, we are committed to serving clients in Fulton County and throughout the state of Georgia.