Metallica frontman James Hetfield feels charitable
byDec 17th 2009 3:15PM
Hetfield has previously donated more than 400 acres to the county for use as open space.
Both parcels are around Hetfield's home.
The donation is a nice-enough story. But the real story? Hetfield's land-use consultant, Scott Hochstrasser, is a genius. Here's why: the donations make Hetfield look good, they may garner him a generous tax deduction and they afford him something that he may not have a lot of -- privacy.
If his gift qualifies as a charitable deduction, and it's been owned for more than a year, Hetfield may be entitled to a charitable deduction equal to the entire fair-market value of the property. For individual taxpayers, the deduction would be limited to a 30% limit of adjusted gross income -- but eligible to be carried over for 5 years for the portion of the deduction that goes unused.
To qualify for a federal income tax deduction, the land or easement must be donated to a public charity or government entity (here, Marin County). The donation must serve at least one of the following conservation purposes:
- the preservation of land areas for outdoor recreation by, or the education of, the general public;
- the protection of a relatively natural habitat of fish, wildlife or plants, or similar ecosystem;
- the preservation of open space (including farmland and forest land) where such preservation is for the scenic enjoyment of the general public or pursuant to a clearly delineated Federal, State or local governmental conservation policy, and will yield a significant public benefit, or
- the preservation of an historically important land area or a certified historic structure.
Further, by restricting the rights of others to develop the land (a key part of most charitable donations of real property), Hetfield has ensured that a full slate of McMansions won't sprout up next to his home. It will stay green, attractive and - best of all - private.
It's a win-win. One wonders why more celebs don't follow Hetfield's lead.