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IRS Reminder, Budget Numbers, 117 Co-sponsors

Advocates Alert: May 8, 2009

IRS Reminder: All Nonprofits Must File Taxes by May 15

This is the second year of a new requirement for small tax-exempt organizations. Land trusts with annual gross receipts of $25,000 or less must file a Form 990-N e-postcard with the IRS. Returns are due on the 15th of the fifth month following the end of your fiscal year--May 15 for calendar year filers.  The e-postcard is a much abbreviated version of the Form 990 or 990-EZ that larger organizations must file by that same deadline.

As discussed in past alerts, the full Form 990 has been completely redesigned for tax year 2008 with new questions about conservation easements. For last-minute help with your tax filings please see our section on Land Trust 990s and Audits and our Detailed Guide to the New 990.

President Obama's Budget Would Grow LWCF, Cut FRPP

Yesterday, President Barack Obama released detailed spending levels for his fiscal year 2010 budget request. In contrast to the select highlights released in March, yesterday's release has detailed line items that will form the basis for negotiations over Appropriations bills in Congress this year.  A separate document detailing tax provisions is expected next week.

As promised in March, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) will grow to $420 million.  Although that total includes $91 million for Forest Legacy and $100 million for the Cooperative Endangered Species Fund, core LWCF funding will still grow substantially, to $187 million for federal acquisition and $30 million for state acquisition.  We're also pleased to see proposed increases for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act ($52.6m) and State Wildlife Grants ($115m).

Our biggest disappointment is language that would cap the Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program (FRPP) at $120 million per year. That's only $1m less than last year, but under the Farm Bill, FRPP was scheduled to grow to $150m this year and to reach $200m by FY 2012.  The Healthy Forests Reserve Program is also capped, at $4.75 million per year.  No cap was placed on the Grasslands Reserve Program.  Expect to see more on this as the appropriations process proceeds.

New Co-sponsors for H.R. 1831, We Need 101 More for a Majority!

With your help since Tuesday's alert, we've recruited eight new co-sponsors for the Conservation Easement Incentive Act, legislation to make the enhanced tax deduction for conservation easements permanent.  That brings our total to 117, more than half the 218 co-sponsors we need to claim a majority in the House.

Is your Representative on the list?  We could get two thirds of the way there with the 66 Representatives who co-sponsored identical legislation last year, but have not yet co-sponsored H.R. 1831 in the new Congress!  Their districts are lime green on this map. Please click here for fact sheets and advice on how you can help.

Thanks for helping!

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Advocates Alerts

July 10: House Vote on Conservation Tax Incentive Coming Soon

The House of Representatives will vote on the Conservation Easement Incentive Act, perhaps as early as next week. Whether you use this incentive or not, this is an unprecedented opportunity for the entire House of Representatives to vote specifically on whether or not to help land trusts. Every vote will count, and we urge you to call your congressional office and ask your representative to support H.R. 2807 when it comes to the floor – and to get as many others as possible in your land trust and its local partners to do the same.
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