If you own property you are no longer using, a gift of real estate to The Nature Conservancy may save you thousands of dollars in income, estate and capital gains taxes as well as help you avoid the hassles of handling negotiations that go with selling property on your own. Best of all, your gift will provide support for the lands and waters you value so much.
Nature Conservancy supporter Betty Anne Schenk had two concerns: She seldom used her Florida vacation home and she wanted to supplement her retirement income. By donating her house to the Conservancy, she found a way to provide a lifetime income for herself and save on taxes, but most importantly she could provide support for her lifelong passion: conservation.
Betty Anne Schenk spots a red-footed booby on the Caribbean island where she is working and nonchalantly walks sideways toward the bird, avoiding eye contact. With a calculated swipe of the long-handled net she is carrying, she carefully catches it. After drawing some blood, she and her research team release it back into the wild. It’s just another day in the field for Betty Anne, a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History.
Betty Anne loves her research and the places it takes her, but is even happier that her research is used to help protect birds and nature. Throughout her 35-year career, she has consulted with governments and organizations regarding seabird conservation and management.
Her love of nature goes back to a childhood spent camping “back in the days when there wasn’t camping equipment.” That meant sleeping in old army pup tents with screen porches fashioned by her resourceful father.
“I guess that is where it all started,” she says. “Dad was interested in everything around him so when we were camping, he felt that learning the names of birds and plants was an important part of being out there.”
Today, with a PhD in biology, Betty Anne is drawn to The Nature Conservancy’s science-based conservation work. A supporter for many years, she likes the fact that the Conservancy has stuck to its mission of preserving land.
“They haven’t lost sight of what’s most important,” she says. “And they work well with many other organizations to accomplish their goals.”
Donating a Second Home; Getting Income for Life
When Betty Anne and her husband decided they would no longer use their Florida vacation home, they found a simple solution that allowed them to sell the property, support the Conservancy, and receive lifetime income.
They donated their home to a charitable remainder unitrust that pays them income every year. As trustee, the Conservancy handled the real estate negotiations and sale. Because the trust is tax exempt, the donation generated a substantial charitable income tax deduction, and the trust paid no capital gains taxes on the sale of the property.
“If I had just sold the property on my own, I would have lost a lot of the value in paying taxes like capital gains. By donating it to the Conservancy, they get funds for conservation, I get income for life, and I save on taxes,” she says.
With a career spent working with museums and nonprofits, Betty Anne was already familiar with different ways of giving, but she liked the professional manner in which the Conservancy handled the whole process.
“From our first conversations to selling the property and funding the trust, I feel they are just an exceptional organization and I am confident that our donation will be well used.”
Most of all, she is glad that the natural world that she has devoted her life to studying and protecting will benefit in the long run. Giving to the Conservancy feels right because, as she puts it: “I like what they do with their money.”
Gifts of real estate can frequently save you thousands of dollars in income, estate, and capital gains taxes, while providing a substantial benefit to The Nature Conservancy. We accept many types of real estate from residential and commercial properties to undeveloped land.
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