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Tax Fraud on Green Land Spurs Crackdown: ‘The IRS Hates These’

‘Out of whack’ deals may lead to investor audits, back taxes

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For 1,500 wealthy people, the tax breaks may have seemed like a sure bet: for every $1 invested in partnerships that promised to preserve green space, they got $4 or more in charitable deductions to cut their U.S. tax bills.

But prosecutors said those deals cheated the Internal Revenue Service out of $250 million by overvaluing deductions from so-called syndicated conservation easements. In December, two brothers from an Atlanta accounting firm pleaded guilty to federal tax-fraud conspiracy charges. They admitted to working with other accountants, lawyers and appraisers in a scheme to get inflated tax benefits for not developing land and selling shares in entities that obtained the deductions.