Conservation easements are increasingly popular. They protect undeveloped land by removing the development right from the land-owner’s “bundle of sticks” and giving it to the party holding the easement. These easements confer a public benefit by protecting undeveloped land, dedicating it to use as a park, or preserving its ecosystem services. The Internal Revenue Code (the Tax Code) recognizes the public benefit, offering tax incentives for their donation to qualified organizations. However, the public does not have a vehicle to enforce the easements’ terms. Standing to enforce an easement is generally limited to the parties to the easement and, in some instances, the state attorneys general. This Note proposes a vehicle for collateral enforcement through the Tax Code. It proposes a citizen suit against the Commissioner of Internal Revenue for approving income tax deductions for conservation easements as a way to ensure an easement is beneficial to the public.
Douglas M. Humphrey,
The "Interior" Revenue Service: The Tax Code as a Vehicle for Third-Party Enforcement of Conservation Easements,
B.C. Envtl. Aff. L. Rev.