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You are here: Home / Policy Action / Advocates Newsletter / Final Week -- 234 Easement Incentive Co-sponsors, Form 990 Reminder

Final Week -- 234 Easement Incentive Co-sponsors, Form 990 Reminder

Advocates Alert: May 6, 2011

Last Chance for Your Rep to Co-sponsor -- Introduction Likely Next Week

Yes, we've said it before, but House introduction of the Conservation Easement Incentive Act appears imminent, so now is the time to call and get your Rep. on the list. UPDATE: We now expect introduction to come on Monday, May 23 -- stay tuned for materials to help spread the word.

We heard some fantastic examples of land trusts meeting with their elected officials over the spring district work period. Check out this ringing endorsement for making the incentive permanent from Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) at an event hosted by Centre County Farmland Trust (using our materials). We couldn't have said it better ourselves, but would you believe he has never co-sponsored the bill? This event clearly made all the difference, but even after getting this kind of commitment, it's essential to close the loop with their staff in DC, who are actually responsible for getting their boss signed on to the bill. Now that they're back from recess, this is the time to call.

An amazing 234 Representatives have now agreed to become original co-sponsors of the Conservation Easement Incentive Act. Please check the co-sponsor list and follow-up with any Reps from your service area that are still missing. We especially need your help adding Republicans.

  • Reach your Rep's office via the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to speak with their tax staffer.
  • Urge your Representative to become an original co-sponsor of the Conservation Easement Incentive Act by calling Lori Prater in Rep. Jim Gerlach's office or Carla McNeill in Rep. Mike Thompson's office.
  • 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.
  • If your Rep. is a member of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, be sure to ask for the staff member's email address and forward the latest letters from Ducks Unlimited and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
  • Click here for other talking points and materials to forward.

We've updated the list of 31 remaining Republicans who co-sponsored in previous years. These members should be the easiest to get on board, so if any are from your area, please thank them for their past support and urge them to sign-on again. We'll also continue updating the full list of co-sponsors as we count down to introduction.

Remember: 990 Thresholds Have Changed This Year

As the May 15 filing deadline approaches (for calendar-year filers), we wanted to remind you that tax year 2010 marks the last in a series of scheduled adjustments to the filing thresholds for forms 990, 990-EZ and 990-N that are required of all public charities every year.  See the IRS chart of filing thresholds, with links to the relevant forms and instructions.

The good news is that organizations with gross receipts of $50,000 or less (up from $25k last year) may file the 990-N e-Postcard, with just eight simple questions.

The bad news is that thresholds for which the full Form 990 is required (vs. the 990-EZ) have fallen to gross receipts exceeding $200,000 or total assets exceeding $500,000. Schedule D of the full 990 includes questions regarding conservation easements that are discussed in our Detailed Guide to Form 990.

Timely and accurate filings of your annual 990 are critical to maintaining your land trust's tax exemption. Missing and deficient 990s are one of several reasons the IRS recently revoked the tax exempt status of land trusts in Florida, Maryland, Washington and another unknown state. None of these organizations were Land Trust Alliance members. The IRS will soon announce thousands of additional revocations for organizations that have not filed a form 990 for three consecutive years. Once revoked, getting your tax exemption back can take 18 months or more, so please pay attention to the filing requirements.

Thanks for being an advocate!

P.S. -- You have one last chance to respond to the 2010 National Land Trust Census. The online survey is now closed, but we'll still accept submissions of the paper form by mail, e-mail, or fax (202-638-4730) through Friday, May 13. Please check this list of respondents to make sure that your land trust and other land trusts in your area have completed the form.  We'd hate to leave you out!


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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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