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You are here: Home / Policy Action / Advocates Newsletter / 124 Co-sponsors, Save Transfer Fees, Census List, Tax Reminders

124 Co-sponsors, Save Transfer Fees, Census List, Tax Reminders

Advocates Alert: April 7, 2011

Great ideas for promoting the Conservation Easement Incentive Act are popping up all around the country! Land Trust of Arkansas had the fantastic idea of persuading the Arkansas House of Representatives to pass a resolution applauding the enhanced easement incentive and conveying that support to their congressional delegation, Texas Agricultural Land Trust sent an action alert, and a number of land trust leaders have reported productive meetings with their members of Congress. We want to hear from you! Please email policy@lta.org and tell us what you're doing to recruit co-sponsors.


Is Your Rep Among the 124 Easement Incentive Co-sponsors? There's Still Time


Thanks to your efforts, the Conservation Easement Incentive Act has 124 original co-sponsors -- already more than the 93 originals in the 111th Congress -- but we still need your help! Please check the list to see if the representatives for your land trust's service area have signed-on. We particularly need help with members of the Ways & Means Committee and Republicans, who were a much larger proportion of last year's co-sponsors.

To reach any member of Congress, simply call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for their office.  When you reach your Representative's tax staffer, urge them to become an original co-sponsor by calling Lori Prater in Rep. Gerlach's office or Carla McNeill in Rep. Thompson's office. With Congress preoccupied by budget issues, we anticipate members will have at least another week to sign-on before the bill is introduced.

When speaking with your Rep's tax staffer, ask for their email address and offer to follow-up with local examples, fact sheets, and letters of support. This week, Sportsmen's Caucus members received a new letter from the American Wildlife Conservation Partners (AWCP) and the Partnership of Rangeland Trusts (PORT) sent a letter to Western members of Congress.


Protect Land Trust Use of Transfer Fees -- Comment Deadline April 11


As you may recall, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) has proposed a ban on private transfer fees, which many land trusts use to fund conservation stewardship, habitat restoration and project acquisition.  In response to thousands of comments, the FHFA, on Feb. 2, 2011 issued a Proposed Rule that partially addresses some of the concerns that were raised.  However, the Proposed Rule creates additional problems and uncertainty that we believe will continue to cause problems for fees that support easement stewardship and other community benefits.

We urge you to submit additional comments by the April 11, 2011 deadline, via the Save Community Benefits Coalition website. Read more about the rulemaking process and related legislation at the state and federal level at www.lta.org/transferfees.


Have You Responded to Census? Check the List


The deadline for the 2010 National Land Trust Census was March 31. Please check this list to make sure that your land trust, its partners and other land trusts in your area have responded. We are still accepting late submissions online, through the mail, and by email, but you must act now.

If you notice that a land trust in your area is missing, please encourage them to respond online at www.lta.org/census. In some cases, respondents have gone through the entire web form but neglected to hit "Submit survey" on the final page. If you need help, please email census@lta.org. Census is the only comprehensive profile of the land trust movement and its land protection activities; accurate information is critical to our ability to tell your story to Congress, funders and other audiences. Thank you for taking the time to respond.


News for Land Trusts -- IRS & Tax Court Insisting on the Details


You may be very good at meeting all the requirements of the law for donations of conservation easements.  But you need to know that there are lots of donors and donees that are not -- and their noncompliance colors how the IRS views all such donations.  The amount of noncompliance out there has almost totally erased any forgiveness there may ever have been with the IRS for not meeting all the requirements of the law, no matter how trivial they may seem to you in the context of a million dollar donation.

In a recent Tax Court case, Schrimsher v. Commissioner, the court overturned a deduction on summary judgment, declaring the deduction invalid because the donor did not have a contemporary written acknowledgment of the donation that specifically stated that no goods or services were received in exchange for the donation, or provided a good faith estimate of the value of goods and services provided. Read the opinion.

It clearly didn't help this donor that their Form 8283 was not signed or dated by either the appraiser or the donee (as is required); and that they did not attach their appraisal to their tax return (required by law if the donation exceeds $500,000).

The donor argued that their easement was, by itself, a contemporaneous written acknowledgement.  The court said it might have been, but that it did not clearly either deny that any goods or services were received in exchange, or estimate the value of those goods and services -- both required to be part of a contemporaneous written acknowledgement by IRC sec. 170(f)(8).

As tax day approaches, we encourage you to visit our conservation donation rules page for a refresher.

Thanks for being an Advocate!

P.S. -- Like many of you, we're closely following the FY 2011 budget negotiations and are well aware of the looming threat of a government shutdown and all the negative consequences it would bring (here in DC, everything from trash collection to the DMV will be suspended!), but we're also mindful there's very little we can do about it. What we can change is the resolve of Congress to defend funding for programs like LWCF and NAWCA that would be severely cut under the House bill. Our advice remains simple: share local examples of projects funded by the programs that matter to you. For details, see our March 9 and March 30 alerts.

Original Co-sponsors of the Conservation Easement Incentive Act

 

LEAD SPONSORS:

  • Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA/6th)*
  • Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA/1st)*

CO-SPONSORS (124 total, Alphabetical):

  • Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-LA/5th)
  • Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA/4th)
  • Rep. Steve Austria (R-OH/7th)
  • Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI/2nd)
  • Rep. John Barrow (D-GA/12th)
  • Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA/31st)*
  • Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV/1st)*
  • Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA/28th)
  • Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY/1st)
  • Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR/3rd)*
  • Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK/2nd)
  • Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA/3rd)
  • Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA/44th)
  • Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA/23rd)
  • Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA/18th)
  • Rep. Ben Chandler (D-KY/6th)
  • Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI/1st)
  • Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC/6th)
  • Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN/9th)
  • Rep. Michael Conaway (R-TX/11th)
  • Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA/11th)
  • Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA/20th)
  • Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY/7th)*
  • Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD/7th)
  • Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR/4th)
  • Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO/1st)
  • Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT/3rd)
  • Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA/15th)
  • Rep. John Dingell (D-MI/15th)
  • Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX/25th)*
  • Rep. Michael Doyle (D-PA/14th)
  • Rep. John Duncan (R-TN/2nd)
  • Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY/17th)
  • Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA/14th)
  • Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA/17th)
  • Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA/51st)
  • Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA/4th)
  • Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA/10th)
  • Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ/7th)
  • Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY/2nd)
  • Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI/1st)
  • Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL/23rd)
  • Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM/1st)
  • Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV/2nd)*
  • Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY/22nd)
  • Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-HI/2nd)
  • Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ/12th)
  • Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA/15th)
  • Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY/2nd)
  • Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL/2nd)
  • Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX/18th)
  • Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX/30th)
  • Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX/3rd)*
  • Rep. Timothy V. Johnson (R-IL/15th)
  • Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH/9th)
  • Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI/5th)
  • Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI/3rd)*
  • Rep. Peter King (R-NY/3rd)
  • Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI/2nd)
  • Rep. John Larson (D-CT/1st)*
  • Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-OH/14th)
  • Rep. Robert Latta (R-OH/5th)
  • Rep. John Lewis (D-GA/5th)*
  • Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ/2nd)
  • Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA/2nd)
  • Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA/16th)
  • Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY/18th)
  • Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM/3rd)
  • Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY/At-large)
  • Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA/3rd)
  • Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY/14th)
  • Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT/2nd)
  • Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA/7th)*
  • Rep. James McGovern (D-MA/3rd)
  • Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC/10th)
  • Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC/7th)
  • Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA/5th)
  • Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA/11th)
  • Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME/2nd)
  • Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC/13th)
  • Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI/10th)
  • Rep. George Miller (D-CA/7th)
  • Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL/1st)
  • Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA/8th)
  • Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT/5th)
  • Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC/9th)
  • Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA/38th)
  • Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ/8th)*
  • Rep. Ed Pastor (D-AZ/4th)
  • Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX/14th)
  • Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME/1st)
  • Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO/2nd)
  • Rep. David Price (D-NC/4th)
  • Rep. Nick J. Rahall (D-WV/3rd)
  • Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY/15th)*
  • Rep. Dennis Rehberg (R-MT/At-large)
  • Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN/1st)
  • Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL/18th)
  • Rep. Mike Ross (R-AR/4th)
  • Rep. Dutch Ruppersburger (D-MD/2nd)
  • Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH/17th)
  • Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA/29th)
  • Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA/13th)
  • Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY/16th)
  • Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX/32nd)
  • Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC/11th)
  • Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA/9th)
  • Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID/2nd)
  • Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ/4th)
  • Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA/12th)
  • Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE/2nd)
  • Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS/2nd)
  • Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX/13th)
  • Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-OH/12th)*
  • Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY/21st)
  • Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA/5th)
  • Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD/8th)
  • Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY/9th)
  • Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT/At-large)
  • Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA/6th)
  • Rep. David Wu (D-OR/1st)
  • Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY/3rd)

* Members of the Ways & Means Committee

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July 17: The House just voted 277-130 to pass the charities package! 56 Democrats joined their Republican colleagues to support charitable giving incentives, including the enhanced easement incentive - the second-highest number of defections after the research and development tax credit. Several others spoke on the floor in support of the conservation easement incentive, and other favorable charitable incentives. Thank you to organizations like Ducks Unlimited, CSF and others that reached out to Congressional offices over the last few days or alerted their membership of this important vote. Now, we pivot to the Senate.
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