The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) determines tax credit eligibility. DNR must certify that both the land and the permanent restrictions conform to O.C.G.A. §48-7-29.12 and the corresponding rules. DNR considers physical characteristics of the property, including size, condition, configuration, and location. DNR also considers terms of the donation and the proposed long-term management of the property.
DNR allows potential applicants to formally inquire about their land’s eligibility by submitting pre-certification applications. DNR provides a non-binding approval or rejection of pre-certification applications within 60 days. Pre-certification is recommended for applicants who have not yet completed a conservation donation, and want to determine if their anticipated donations are likely to be approved.
Lands ineligible for a conservation tax credit include areas already permanently protected from development under local ordinances, such as stream buffers, zoning limits and conservation subdivisions. Ineligible lands also include areas that are, or will be, designated to support active recreation, such as golf courses, athletic fields, and other ‘resource intensive’ uses.
The program rules outline the full restrictions. Among the required restrictions are subdivision limits, stream buffers, mining prohibitions and other similar land use limitations. However, eligible donations don't have to allow for public access.
Most importantly, these restrictions must all be part of a permanent conservation easement or deed restriction. Unlike the CUVA program, which is administered by local government tax assessors, tax credit-eligible restrictions do not expire after 10 or 20 years. After they are established, conservation restrictions run with the land in perpetuity, and must be followed by all subsequent owners of the land.
Donors must first complete an eligible conservation donation to a qualified organizations. Qualified organizations include approved non-government conservation organizations, some state and federal agencies and Georgia local governments. Donors should contact and work with a qualified organization before applying for a conservation tax credit.
Applicants must complete and submit an application for tax credit certification to the DNR. If the DNR approves such a donation, the applicant must submit the DNR approval letter, property appraisal and Form IT-CONSV as part of their state income tax packages.
Donors who are not approved must make any changes specified by the DNR to their application packages. Rejected donors may appeal final determinations by the DNR through the “Georgia Administrative Procedure Act” (O.C.G.A. §50-13).
Applicants must complete and submit an application for tax credit certification to the DNR, along with a $5,000 application fee and qualified appraisal.
The State Properties Commission will review applicants' appraisals according to policy SPC-12. Afterwards, DNR will provide a formal written response within approximately 90 days of receiving tax credit applications. Approved donors should submit DNR approval letters and Form IT-CONSV as part of their state income tax packages.
Donors who are not approved must make any changes specified by DNR to their application packages. Rejected donors may appeal final determinations by the DNR through the “Georgia Administrative Procedure Act” (O.C.G.A. §50-13).
Approved donors may be awarded with a credit against their personal or corporate state income taxes. The tax credit is equal to 25 percent of the appraised donation value up to $250,000 for individual donors, and $500,000 for corporate donors. State income tax credits may be claimed over 10 years, or until the donor uses the entire credit. Donors may also sell any tax credits they've received to another state income tax payer following procedures established by the Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR).
Donors may also be eligible to receive a federal income tax deduction from conservation donations, as well as incidental reductions in estate and property taxes. These incentives are provided by the federal and local governments, and do not involve the state of Georgia.