Friday, April 22, 2011

House Committee takes on conservation easements… again

With state officials continuing to clamp down on the use of tax credits to preserve rural land from development, a legislative panel Thursday passed a measure making it a little easier for landowners to push back.

House Bill 1300, sponsored by Rep. Marsha Looper, R-Calhan, would allow disputes over the validity of conservation-easement tax credits to go directly to court rather than forcing landowners to await a ruling by the Colorado Department of Revenue.

The measure would also allow those who buy and sell the tax credits granted to the original owners to be a party to disputes in court, and it offers deadlines for resolution of the 600 or so cases currently pending: July 2014 for the donor and 2016 for related parties.

Yesterday’s action by the House Finance Committee represented the second time this month that the panel was asked to dissect aspects of the complex program, which has drawn scrutiny from the media and state regulators in recent years amid allegations of abuse. Earlier this month, the committee also heard House Bill 1208, by Rep. Wes McKinley, D-Walsh, and its fate has yet to be decided. McKinley’s bill seeks administrative remedies for current easements that are in dispute.

Looper said her bill’s aim is to provide options for landowners and tax-credit buyers who have been snared in red tape over challenges by the Revenue Department over the validity of conservation-easement tax credits.

In most case, said Looper, the tax credits are denied by the state years later, long after the credits may have been sold or transferred. The original landowner is contacted, along with the buyers, with interest and penalties beginning to accrue alongside prolonged administrative proceedings.

Supporting the bill, Stan Mann of Walsenburg, owner of a partially developed subdivision, whose credits are in dispute, said he is an innocent bystander in a legislatively devised program that has gone awry. He said he would more than welcome the opportunity to speak to a judge because he cannot get a response from revenue department officials as to why they said his land doesn’t have development value.

“I’d like the legislature to say, ‘We caused the problem, and now we’re going to fix the problem,’ ” said Mann.

Following Thursday’s action, the proposal is headed to the House Appropriations Committee for consideration.

Via - Colorado News Agency

No comments:

Post a Comment