South Carolina Conservation Credit Exchange
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the South Carolina Conservation Credit Exchange?
The Exchange is a market-based mechanism created to “make a market” in South Carolina Conservation Credits made available to South Carolina landowners and taxpayers via the Conservation Incentives Act (Act 283) passed by the Legislature in 2001.

Why was the Exchange created?
We chartered the Exchange to assist landowners who want to recover some of their cost of donating property or an easement by providing a simple, credible, one-stop place for sellers and buyers of conservation credits to get together.

Who benefits from the Exchange? In short, everybody!

  • Landowners donating easements eligible for conservation credits are assured of high cash value for those credits they do not or cannot use;
  • Land Trusts are able to focus on that part of the conservation deal for which they were created – providing easements and long-term monitoring -- while leaving the “banking/exchange” function to others.
  • Taxpayers purchasing credits enjoy immediate tax advantages through the power of dollar-for-dollar tax benefits bought at less than face value;
  • And finally, all citizens of South Carolina benefit, as the Exchange helps to further the conservation of South Carolina's natural and cultural heritage.

Who are the principals involved in the Exchange?
Robin Underwood, a financial analyst and conservation consultant working in the Carolinas, manages the Exchange. Underwood has over twenty years experience with income, estate and investment planning.  Under a grant from the John S and James L Knight Foundation, she presented continuing education courses to accountants and attorneys on conservation tax incentives.  She is an alumna of the Center for Whole Communities in Vermont and recipient of the Girl Scouts Woman of Distinction in Environmental Leadership 2007 award.  

Credit for the framework of the Exchange belongs to Carlton Owen, president and CEO of US Endowment for Forestry and Communities, and Cary Hall, tax attorney and partner in the Wyche Law Firm based in Greenville, SC.

Are there other credit exchanges in other states?
Fourteen states have state-based credits designed to encourage the donation of qualified conservation easements. Only five of those states – Colorado, Virginia, New Mexico, Georgia and South Carolina – allow the transfer of credits to others. A number of exchanges have been chartered in both Colorado and Virginia.


Just how does the Exchange work?
In short, once a landowner agrees to donate a qualified conservation easement to a land trust and all the paper work is done – easements are signed and recorded, qualified appraisals are done, etc. – South Carolina law provides for credits against South Carolina taxes for the donor to either use against their own taxes, or gift or sell to others.

For easements donated after May 31, 2001, on a qualified property in South Carolina a dollar-for-dollar tax credit equal to 25% of the deduction attributable to the gift is generated. The credit may not exceed $250 per acre.   Any unused credit may be carried forward, or it may be sold or gifted upon written notification to, and approval of the transfer by, the SC Department of Revenue.

The Exchange will ensure that all necessary paper work and approvals are obtained as well as manage the transaction on behalf of the landowners (sellers) and buyers.

How does the Exchange add value to the land trust process?
In addition to the market advantages to both sellers and buyers of credits, the Exchange is committed to upholding the highest principles and ethics associated with land conservation as well as federal and state tax laws and regulations. We won’t buy or sell just any credit. Before agreeing to make a market in specific credits we review the organization accepting the easement, the vendor conducting the valuation appraisal, and the conservation purposes served. We review the entire transaction to attain a high degree of confidence that the transaction is of the highest conservation quality and in full compliance with all codes and regulations. In short, the Exchange is your “Good-Housekeeping Seal of Approval” of the quality of the underlying transaction.

As a holder of a credit, why should I work with the Exchange?
Working through the South Carolina Conservation Credit Exchange provides many benefits to the seller of credits…among them:

  • Top dollar … for your credits with minimum effort on your part;
  • Simplicity … with one-stop shopping in dealing with all aspects of the transfer from finding and qualifying buyers to completing forms and working with the Department of Revenue;
  • Integrity and credibility … by working with trusted and proven individuals who share your commitment to conservation

As a buyer of a credit, why should I work with the Exchange?
Working with and through the South Carolina Conservation Credit Exchange provides credit buyers with many benefits … among them:

  • Value … through the purchase of credits at a fair price to the seller and to you;
  • Simplicity … credits have been pre-approved and are most likely to stand the test of time and reviews by the Department of Revenue and the IRS;
  • Peace of mind … in knowing that the credit you are buying has met rigorous reviews and an independent set of eyes beyond that of the receiving organization; and
  • Conservation … in knowing that by working through the Exchange you are helping to protect important conservation lands in South Carolina
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"Conservation is the harmony between man and nature."

~ Aldo Leopold

















































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