- Fee Schedule for 2023
Pursuant to section 12-15-104(3) and 12-15-106(6), C.R.S., the Division prescribes fees for conservation easement holder certification applications, tax credit certificate applications, and for optional preliminary advisory opinions of the conservation purpose and/or the appraisal of conservation easements that may result in a tax credit certificate application.
Tax Credit Certificate Applications
For Donations made in 2011-2013: $305
For Donations made on or after January 1, 2014: $10,000
Optional preliminary advisory opinions
For an appraisal of a proposed transaction: $10,000
For a proposed deed of conservation easement, conservation purpose, or other relevant aspect of a proposed transaction: $5,000
Certification fees for entities currently accredited by a national land conservation organization
Initial Certification Application Fee - Stewardship-only: $2,000
Initial Certification Application Fee - Full certification: $4,000
Conservation Easement Holder Renewal Fee - Stewardship-only: $500
Conservation Easement Holder Renewal Fee - Full certification : $1,000
Certification fees for entities not currently accredited by a national land conservation organization
Initial Certification Application Fee - Stewardship-only: $4,000
Initial Certification Application Fee - Full certification: $8,000
Conservation Easement Holder Renewal Fee - Stewardship-only: $1,000
Conservation Easement Holder Renewal Fee - Full certification : $2,000
- Compliance Checklists
Pursuant to section 12-15-106(2)(a) C.R.S., the Division has established a tax credit application process to determine whether a conservation easement donation:
- is a contribution of a qualified real property interest to a qualified organization to be used exclusively for a conservation purpose, and
- is substantiated with a qualified appraisal prepared by a qualified appraiser in accordance with USPAP.
The process is guided by compliance checklists for conservation purpose and appraisal review. The checklists are used by Division staff to conduct the tax credit application review and determine compliance with specific regulatory requirements.
- Legislative History
Colorado's conservation easement tax credit was created in 1999 and has evolved into a significant incentive and important tool for conservation.
2021: HB21-1233 changed the formula for calculating the amount of the tax credit to 90% of the donated conservation easement value, established a process for tracking transfers of tax credits, and expanded eligibility for the tax credit.
2019: HB19-1264 increased the amount of the tax credit to $5 million per donation to be issued in increments of no more than $1.5 million per year, extended the Conservation Easement Oversight Commission and the program certifying easement holders for seven years, until July 1, 2026, and created another working group to recommend legislation or rulemaking.
2018: HB18-1291 resulted from the 2017 Sunset Review, extended the Conservation Easement Oversight Commission and the program certifying easement holders for one year, moved the program to the newly created Division of Conservation within DORA, and created a working group to recommend legislation or regulations that do not conflict with federal law.
2015: SB15-206 changed the formula for calculating the amount of the tax credit to 75% of the first $100,000 of donated conservation easement value and 50% of its donated value above $100,000, up to a maximum $1.5 million tax credit per donation.
2013: SB13-221 moved the tax credit program to the Department of Regulatory Agencies' Division of Real Estate from the Department of Revenue, and created the preapproval process for issuance of tax credits associated with conservation easements donated on or after January 1, 2014.
2011: HB11-1300 streamlined the process with the Department of Revenue for disputed tax credits.
2008: HB08-1353 reformed the tax credit process to require an application and the certification of easement holders, and created the Conservation Easement Oversight Commission.
2007: HB07-1361 increased reporting standards for easement holders.
2006: HB06-1354 changed the formula for calculating the tax credit to 50% of the donated value up to $375,000.
2000: HB00-1348 made the tax credit transferable.
1999: HB99-1155 created the non-transferable conservation easement tax credit, limited to $100,000 per donation.
- Legislative Working Groups
1264 Working Group
The 1264 Working Group was formed pursuant to HB19-1264, which was signed by Governor Polis on June 3, 2019. The law extends the Conservation Easement Oversight Commission and the Division of Conservation program to certify conservation easement holders to July 1, 2026.
The working group was established to resolve outstanding challenges of the program prior to the establishment of the Division, specifically around landowner settlements, orphaned easement administration, and alternative valuation methods. Representatives appointed to the working group included landowners, conservation attorneys, and land trust representatives.
The working group and its issue teams discussed policy recommendations at meetings that were open to the public, and submitted the HB19-1264 Working Group Final Report with Recommendations on November 26, 2019.
Policy Recommendation Highlights
1. Landowner Settlements
The proposed policy would reinstate the fair market value of disallowed credits between 2000 and 2013, less any settlement values with the Colorado Department of Revenue. Settlements could be in the form of credits or refunds and may cost as much as $147 million. The recommendation is to fund payments from previous years’ unused tax credit caps or, if needed, from up to half of future years’ credit cap.
2. Orphaned Easement Administration
Orphaned or abandoned easements would be evaluated by the Division of Conservation and the Conservation Easement Oversight Commission to determine which easements can be readily transferred to a qualifying entity, which easements need to be amended before being transferred, and which easements cannot be reformed. For easements placed in the first two categories, the Division of Conservation would work with interested conservation organizations on the assignment of those easements. Easements in the third category would be submitted to the Attorney General’s office to process for extinguishment.
3. Alternative Valuation Methods
This proposed policy would adjust the tax credit formula to increase the percentage that a grantor can claim (up to 90%). A pilot program for alternative valuation was not finalized. The recommendation is to continue that research and planning until a pilot program is developed.
Alan Gentz, landowner
Erik Glenn, executive director, Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust
Don Brown, farmer and rancher, former commissioner of agriculture
Melissa Daruna, executive director, Keep It Colorado
Jay Fetcher, rancher
Belinda Groner, landowner
Jillane Hixson, farmer and rancher
Jessica Jay, conservation easement attorney
1291 Working Group
The working group's report was submitted to the Agriculture Committees and Transportation Committees of both the House and Senate, respectively, on November 27, 2018.HB 18-1291 working group report
For a scanned version of the much shorter narrative portion of the HB 18-1291 working group report, please click here.
Click here for the original 1291 Working Group Questionnaire issued August 21, 2018. This questionnaire sought detailed ideas concerning four specific matters raised in section 39-22-522 (3.8), C.R.S., regarding Colorado's conservation easement tax credit program, as amended by HB18-1291.
As background, you may want to review the signed bill here.
Participation in the working group was open between August 21 and November 15, 2018.
- Annual Reports
Pursuant to section 12-15-106(13)(a) C.R.S., the Division creates public reports for tax credit applications. Annual reports from 2014 - 2017 and the first one half of 2018 reflect activity from when the tax credit was managed within the Division of Real Estate.