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Senate Passes One-Year Extension of the Enhanced Easement Incentive!

Advocates Alert: March 10, 2010

A few hurdles remain, but today the Senate took a big step towards extending the enhanced easement incentive for one more year!

Senate Vote Sends Modified "Extenders" Package Back to the House

On March 10th, the Senate voted 62 to 36 to pass H.R. 4213, a package of tax "extenders" and other provisions that includes a one-year extension of the enhanced tax deduction for conservation easements!   With today's action, the House and Senate have both passed this one-year extension, but changes elsewhere in the bill will require additional action by the House.  The extension would last through December 31, 2010 and be retroactive to the beginning of this year.

Senior staffers of the House Ways & Means Committee tell us they haven't yet decided how to proceed with consideration of the Senate version of this bill (which the House originally passed in December).  While the extenders themselves are generally uncontroversial, the Senate changed how they're paid for and attached several new provisions that the House will want to change.  We will keep you informed every step of the way!

The two-week Spring District Work Period, which begins March 26th, is a great time to show your Representative the important conservation work this incentive has helped you accomplish in their district.  Whether our extension has passed or not, a site visit or in-district meeting will be a good opportunity to make the case for making this incentive permanent.

Clarification: The Senate-passed extenders package also includes two other provisions we've been following: the IRA Charitable Rollover, which allows certain taxpayers to make penalty-free IRA withdrawals for charitable donations, and the "S-Corp fix" which allows S-Corp shareholders to deduct the fair market value of charitable donations rather than just their basis in company stock.

Update: Before you get too excited here, we're talking about a different "jobs bill" than H.R. 2847, which headed to the President on March 17th. Today's House passage of a bill extending unemployment benefits through April 30 suggests the timeline for enacting H.R. 4213 will likely slip beyond the spring recess, but we remain optimistic that it's just a matter of time and will continue to focus on making the incentive permanent. Click here for a more recent status update.

Get Your Representative to Sign the LWCF/Forest Legacy Letter by March 17!

See our March 15 alert for more details, including a new Friday, March 19th deadline for the House letter and the Senate letter, which has a March 24th deadline.

Monday's alert suggested asking your Representative to sign a letter seeking increased federal appropriations for land conservation.  Today, the letter sponsors announced a March 17th deadline for signatures -- just one-week from today!  We've updated the letter with a new cover sheet featuring that deadline.

This turnaround is much tighter than usual, so we need your help today to match last year's total of 137 signers.  Click here for a chart that shows signers so-far this year (in green) and for the past four years. Some 230 sitting Representatives have signed in at least one previous year and thanking your Rep. for doing so should go a long way towards persuading them to sign this year. See Monday's alert for step-by-step instructions.

We'll update the chart as signers are added and will let you know when the Senate letter is circulated.

Thanks for helping!

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Advocates Alerts

February 12: The House successfully voted 279-137, demonstrating a supermajority (67%) of support, on H.R. 644, a package of charitable incentives including the conservation tax incentive.Now we need your help in the Senate to secure co-sponsors! Sens. Heller and Stabenow have requested land trusts’ assistance in asking senators to cosponsor S. 330, the Conservation Easement Incentive Act. Learn more »

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