Who may accept or “hold” a preservation easement?Updated 2/21/2008
The qualifications for an easement-holding organization are generally defined under state law. In addition, easements designed to qualify for the federal tax deduction must meet qualifications established by the federal tax code and regulations.
Generally conservation and preservation easements are held either by governmental entities (such as state historic preservation offices or local historic preservation commissions) or by nonprofit organizations that are committed to the conservation and/or preservation purposes of the easement. To qualify for federal tax benefits, easement-holding organizations must have the preservation of historic places as a part of their mission and must have the commitment and resources to enforce and monitor the easement. In fact, many easement-holding organizations have set aside easement endowments or stewardship funds that provide a designated source of funding to cover the obligations of the easement-holding organization. Easement-holding organizations should have either established funds or ongoing operational support to meet their stewardship obligations.
There are hundreds of easement-holding organizations and governmental entities across the country that accept and administer preservation easements. A few, like the National Trust for Historic Preservation, are national organizations; and some, like Historic New England, are regional. Most easement-holding organizations, however, operate at the state or local level.
Many of the National Trust state wide and local partners are easement-holding organizations. Also, many State Historic Preservation Offices– state government agencies that operate historic preservation programs – hold preservation easements.
In the past few years, several organizations have been expressly created to promote and accept historic preservation easements. We strongly recommend that donors look to those organizations that have a strong track-record in historic preservation, and which are well-positioned to exercise a long-term stewardship role.