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Estate Tax Heads to Senate, Extenders Bill Expected Next Week

Advocates Alert: December 3, 2009

Today the House passed a bare-bones, permanent extension of the 2009 estate tax. Unfortunately, there was no opportunity for amendments to make the easement incentive permanent and provide other estate tax incentives for conservation.  We're working with several Representatives to get statements in the record that will help ensure that these provisions are in the conversation as negotiations with the Senate get underway.

Estate Tax Package Heads to the Senate

The Senate's work on the estate tax may be our best remaining opportunity to get the easement incentive made permanent this year, and we're working to get it included as part of a package of measures to mitigate the impact of estate tax on agricultural landowners.

You can help make your Senators aware of this issue:

  1. Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for each of your Senators.
  2. Ask for the staff member who handles taxes, tell them about the easement incentive and urge them to co-sponsor S. 812 by contacting Tiffany Smith at the Senate Finance Committee. (Click here to see if your Senator is already a co-sponsor, and if so, thank them!)
  3. Suggest that the estate tax package could be a suitable vehicle to make the easement incentive permanent before it expires December 31st. Conservation easements have long been important in estate planning.
  4. Ask for their email address and follow up with a fact sheet and some personal anecdotes about the incentive.

We have also talked to several key Senators about including Senate versions of H.R. 3050 (expanding the estate tax exclusion for land under easement) and H.R. 3525 (deferring estate tax on farmland).  Click here for a fact sheet that discusses all three bills in the context of an estate tax package.

House Extenders Package

Next week, the House expects to take up a bill to extend for one year virtually all the tax laws due to expire December 31st.  A one-year extension of the tax incentive for conservation easements is included in the most recent recent draft of that bill! An extension of the IRA Charitable Rollover is also included.

It may be a challenge to get the extenders (or any other tax bill) enacted before the end of 2009, but even if the incentive expires on December 31st, there's a very good chance it will be extended retroactively at some point in 2010.  We realize this degree of uncertainty puts landowners in a very difficult position -- that's why we're working so hard to make the incentive permanent.

We'll keep you updated as the extenders package proceeds, but we are focusing our efforts on the estate tax package -- our best chance to secure permanence for the easement incentive.

Thanks for Helping!

H.R. 1831 and S. 812 Co-sponsors Added Since Last Update:

  • Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA/3rd)
  • Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
  • Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

Click here for the full list.

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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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