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Your Help Needed to Make the Easement Incentive Permanent

Time Is Running Out

The clock is ticking: The House voted to make the conservation tax incentive permanent. Next, the measure will go to the Senate for a vote. This is an opportunity to pass the America Gives More Act and make the tax incentives for conservation easement donations permanent.

View talking points »

Here's how you can help in a few easy steps:

Step 5: Tell Us What You Did This Summer

Over the summer, land trust staff and volunteers across the country have stepped up to educate their senators about the importance of the tax incentives to their communities, and we want to make sure we leverage this activity to get the Senate to act now. Please let us know about any meetings, site visits, correspondence, media placements, phone calls or other outreach you've completed to senators and their staff by contacting your Alliance regional representative:

Northeast: Email Sean Robertson »
Midwest and Southeast: Email Bryan David »
West: Email Bethany O'Donovan »

Step 4: Publish an Op-Ed

Use our template urging the Senate to pass the America Gives More Act to place an op-ed in your local media. Consider partnering with another local charity on this effort.

Step 3: Ask Your Senators to Make a Floor Statement

Ask your senators to make a statement on the floor of the Senate in support of the tax incentives for charitable donations, including donations of conservation easements. See our template for a Senate floor statement »

Step 2: Get Local Publicity

You can make sure your senator prioritizes our issue when the Senate is back in session. Get local publicity about the importance of the tax incentive to your community. Personalize a template below and reach out to local media to place it:

Step 1: Secure a Site Visit

During this August recess, schedule a site visit with your senator and/or staff. Brief your board and donors on this historic opportunity, identify anyone with a connection to a senator and deploy this “natural partner” to reach out to the senator. If possible invite the senator and staff to see land you’ve preserved using the tax incentive and to meet land owners that made this decision. Learn more »

And Don't Forget to Say Thank You

If you haven't already, thank your representatives via social media, using our templates and examples:

See more ways to say thank you »

How to Gain and Reaffirm Your Congressman's Support

Even if your senators are co-sponsors, we need to reaffirm their support for the easement incentive when it comes to the floors for a vote. Here are a few steps to doing so:

  1. Introduce your organization and tell them how important this tax incentive is to conservation work in your community.
  2. Tell them how the tax incentive helps family farmers, ranchers, and modest-income landowners protect their land. Share specific stories from your area!
  3. If they co-sponsored in the 112th Congress, be sure to thank them when asking for their support again.
  4. Remind Republicans that conservation easements are a cost-effective, voluntary, private-sector alternative to government led conservation efforts and that this incentive makes the tax system fairer for modest-income farmers, ranchers and forest owners.
  5. Urge Senators to co-sponsor the Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act, S. 526, introduced by Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT). Senators interested in co-sponsoring should send a signed Unanimous Consent request to the Senate floor.
  6. If your congressmen is a member of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, be sure to ask for the staff member's email address and forward our letter from more than 30 hunting and fishing organizations.
  7. Ask for the staffer’s email address and offer to send a fact sheet on the easement incentive.
  8. Phone calls and in-person visits are best, but you can send a letter if you prefer. View advice and examples.

News Archive

July 17: House Passes Conservation Tax Incentive

The House voted on H.R. 4719, "The America Gives More Act," which contains the Conservation Easement Incentive Act. The bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 277-130. This is the first time every member of Congress has gone on record making the easement incentive permanent.

The measure now goes to the Senate, where we have strong support, but will face new challenges in breaking through a legislative logjam.

You can take action today by calling the capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 to ask your senator to join Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and 25 of his colleagues as co-sponsors of the Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act, S. 526. Learn more about how you can help »

July 11: House Scheduled a Vote

Congressional House leadership has scheduled a vote on July 17 on a bill to permanently enact several charitable tax incentives, including H.R. 2807, the Conservation Easement Incentive Act. The bill will come to the House floor as part of a larger charities package.

The provision officially reached a bipartisan majority of the House as co-sponsors – 222 in total. However, it is important that we continue to work together to ensure its passage. Moreover, the more bipartisan votes we secure, the better positioned we will be with the Senate.

Regardless of whether or not your Congressman or woman was a co-sponsor, please call your representative to urge him or her to vote “yes” when it comes up for a vote next Wednesday or Thursday. You can reach your representative by calling the House switchboard at 202-225-3121.

Making permanent the enhanced tax deduction for conservation easements has been a priority for the Alliance and the land trust community since 2006. This will be the first time we’ve been able to get a vote on this on the House floor.

July 3: Report Filed by House

The House Ways and Means Committee filed its report on H.R. 2807, the Conservation Easement Incentive Act. That means they are getting ready for a vote by the full House! We need to be ready, too!

June 12: Please sign the Independent Sector letter

Please consider signing your land trust on to this letter by Independent Sector (which represents charities in D.C.) asking all members of the House to vote for the conservation tax incentive and two other charitable provisions recently passed by the committee (the IRA charitable rollover and an enhanced deduction for donations of food inventory to food banks and related charities). The letter asks for representatives to make these three important charitable provisions permanent. The more organizations that sign on, the larger impact we will have.

May 29: House Committee Passes Conservation Tax Incentive

On May 29, legislation to make permanent the enhanced tax incentive for conservation easement donations, H.R. 2807, was passed out of the House of Representatives Ways and Means committee. The bill gained its 219th cosponsor, a majority of the members of the House of Representatives.

This is a great step forward for land conservation and for providing a reliable tool to ensure that today’s natural treasures can be enjoyed for generations to come.

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Advocates Alerts

September 11: The Senate is back in session now for two weeks before recessing until after the midterm elections.there is still an opportunity to create a surge of support in the Senate for taking up the House-passed charitable giving package, which includes the tax incentive for conservation easement donations. Please ask your Senators to speak to leadership in support of the incentive, and to give a brief statement on the floor. please take a few minutes to read about our proposed 2015 work and answer our brief survey about how our team can better represent you in 2015
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Congress wrestles with tax breaks for open space

July 29, 2014 | Poughkeepsie Journal | NY

House passes Gerlach conservation tax break bill, now up to Senate

July 18, 2014 | The Mercury News | Pottstown, PA

The Time is Now for Congress to Act on Conservation

July 15, 2014 | Politico | Washington, D.C.

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