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Incentive & LWCF Stalled, Fix Federal Problems, Last Chance for 321,000 Charities

Advocates Alert: August 5, 2010

Congress Departs Without Renewing the Enhanced Easement Incentive

Congress will depart for a five-week recess without renewing the enhanced tax incentive for donations of conservation easements. That means the incentive won't be renewed until late September, at the earliest.

You have every right to be frustrated!  Use the August recess to complain to your senators and representatives about the delay! Call their district offices today to set up an in-district meeting or find out about public events where you can talk to them and their staff.  Congress will be considering a TRILLION dollars worth of extensions of income tax cuts made a decade ago this fall.  If we want them to add making the easement incentive permanent to this package, you need to ask them now!

Be sure to tell them:

  • The failure of Congress to promptly renew the incentive has stopped many conservation donations cold;
  • Easement donations are a lengthy and expensive process for the landowner and the land trust.  Without the certainty of a permanent incentive, many landowners will never begin the process.
  • There is no conservation as cost-effective as a voluntary donation from a modest-income landowner.  That's the donation that needs this incentive to work.

Meanwhile, some people are still able to donate conservation easements under the old, pre-incentive rules.  The enhanced incentive is specifically designed for modest-income landowners, so run the numbers; high-income individuals may still be able to deduct the full value of their contribution. See our frequently asked questions.


Senate Delays Action on LWCF

Following last Friday's passage of House legislation to fully dedicate $900 million/yr to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, it seemed possible the Senate might move quickly.  But it soon became clear they lacked the votes to pass S. 3663, so Senate action on this oil spill response bill was put off until September at the earliest.

That gives us five more weeks to change the math! This historic opportunity to leave a conservation legacy has become obscured in the fog of election year politics.  The upcoming recess is a chance to clear the air and remind your Senators why they supported LWCF in the first place.  See Monday's alert for more details.


Fix Federal Problems!  Win a Prize!

One of the commitments made by the Administration in its America's Great Outdoors Initiative is that they are looking for "barriers to conservation" -- and how to fix them.

If you have run into a problem with a federal program that has stopped a good conservation effort or made it more difficult, please let us know ASAP.  If you have a suggested fix, please let us know.  And if you have a suggestion for other changes that would make it easier to get land conservation done, let us know that, too.

The best submission by email to policy@lta.org gets a prize from us!

  1. Round of beers for whomever shows up at Rally from your land trust (sorry, this prize doesn’t apply to TNC employees); or
  2. Bottle of champagne (trust our taste).

You can also add your problem and solution to the America's Great Outdoors IdeaJam.


321,000 Charities Get One Last Chance to Keep Tax Exempt Status

Is your land trust on this list of 321,000 charities that will lose their tax exempt status for failing to file a form 990 three years in a row?  If you read our ADVOCATES alerts, probably not, but what about the youth group that maintains your trails or the hunt club that helped you in the legislature?

The IRS just announced a "one-one time filing relief" for delinquent 501(c)3 organizations that file a 990-N or 990-EZ by October 15. Check the list and help save charities in your community>>


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Advocates Alerts

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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